One million rare pieces smuggled throughout history How were Egypt's antiquities looted and what are the ways to restore them?

One million rare pieces smuggled throughout history How were Egypt's antiquities looted and what are the ways to restore them?  Cairo is intensifying its efforts to recover about a million antiquities stolen by smugglers or looted by colonial countries throughout history, but these efforts are met with intransigence and impossible conditions that make the process of recovering antiquities difficult.  Spain on Monday returned 36 stolen artifacts to Egyptian officials, including statues of deities and urns for preserving mummified entrails.  The Egyptian Public Prosecution stated in a statement that "the extradition process came as a result of concerted efforts between the Public Prosecution, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Spain to coordinate with the authorities there in order to preserve the Egyptian historical heritage (...) and within the framework of the Egyptian state's strategy to preserve its history. and its capabilities.”  Cairo is intensifying its efforts to recover about one million antiquities stolen by smugglers or looted by colonial countries throughout history. However, these efforts are met with intransigence and impossible conditions that make the process of recovering antiquities difficult. Dozens of museums around the world, in addition to international auction houses, are still publicly displaying the stolen antiquities.  How was this huge number of rare antiquities looted, and what are the most prominent countries and entities currently acquiring them? Will the Egyptian efforts to restore its scattered heritage around the world succeed?  Theft, excavation and gifts Theft is considered the most prominent and widespread reason for smuggling Egyptian antiquities abroad. The thefts date back to the days of the Pharaohs themselves, when tomb workers were stealing expensive items made of gold, and at that time a famous investigation was carried out known as the “Tomb Robbery Papyrus,” according to Magdy Shaker, an Egyptian archaeologist.  The theft continued during ancient times with the Romans who seized the most important pieces of antiquities during their occupation of Egypt during the first six centuries AD. During the following centuries, widespread looting of Egypt's antiquities and ancient heritage spread, until the hieroglyphic writing was revealed in 1822, which increased the greed of Europeans to steal all the antiquities they could reach.  In addition to theft, there are legal and illegal excavations of antiquities, where the first is under the supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities, while the other is carried out stealthily through the people away from the eyes of the official authorities, and the latter causes the antiquities mafia to smuggle and trade antiquities.  And some Egyptian kings and rulers, and even recently, allowed some antiquities to leave Egypt in the form of gifts to strengthen their relations with different countries of the world. The era of Muhammad Ali Pasha was the most widespread period of this phenomenon, as he sought to consolidate his foreign relations, especially with European countries, by presenting them with antiques and artifacts.  The most prominent destinations of smuggled Egyptian antiquities Britain and France, the two Western colonial powers with the only colonial legacy in Egypt's modern history during the 19th and 20th centuries, have the lion's share of the looted Egyptian antiquities in terms of number and importance. Added to them are Germany, the United States and Italy.  Hussein Dukeil, a researcher and academic specializing in antiquities, compiled a list of the most prominent museums and the bodies that appropriated Egyptian antiquities, stressing that these antiquities are often "the mainstay on which these museums have been built. The squares of those countries are adorned with unique Egyptian obelisks and ancient temples."  The British Museum in London alone contains more than 100,000 pieces of Egyptian antiquities, followed by the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in the British capital as well, which includes about 80,000 Egyptian artifacts, and in the list of other British museums comes the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Fitzwillim Museum. In Cambridge, the Museum of the World in Liverpool and the Manchester Museum in northern England, the total number of Egyptian antiquities in British museums is about 275,000 pieces.  Around the world, the Egyptian Museum in the German capital Berlin possesses nearly 80,000 artifacts that include all Egyptian historical periods, and the Louvre Museum in the French capital of lights, Paris, which includes about 50 thousand artifacts. Many American museums also include hundreds of thousands of Egyptian artifacts, such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Kesley Museum of Archeology in a city in Michigan, each with more than 45,000 smuggled Egyptian artifacts.  Antiquities Recovery Efforts Egyptologists divide Egyptian antiquities smuggled abroad into three types, the first of which is the category obtained by foreign missions that participated in excavations on antiquities before 1983, which was the time of the issuance of the Antiquities Protection Law, when foreign missions were allowed to obtain a percentage of the discovered antiquities, as well as antiquities. Gifted by the former rulers of Egypt, and they all fall into a category that cannot be retrieved due to their legal exit from the country.  The second category includes the antiquities that were embezzled by the mafia and antiquities thieves and smuggled abroad surreptitiously, and also fall within the scope of antiquities that cannot be recovered because they are not registered, while the third category contains the artifacts that were discovered through various archaeological missions and registered with the Supreme Council of Antiquities and then smuggled abroad. can be recovered.  In this way, the Egyptian government is seeking to prosecute antiquities smugglers and demand various governments around the world to return the antiquities that fall into the third category, while the process of gifting Egyptian antiquities to foreign missions has been halted under the Antiquities Law of 1983, which specialists consider a turning point in protecting Egyptian antiquities from theft and looting. . This comes in addition to toughening penalties for trafficking in antiquities or simply excavating them, to imprisonment for periods ranging between 3 and 7 years, and fines of no less than five hundred thousand Egyptian pounds.  Egyptian antiquities expert Magdi Shaker presented the formation of a “ popular committee to restore heritage ” that includes famous Egyptian figures abroad, and works to recover antiquities smuggled outside Egypt, provided that the committee includes people such as Mohamed Salah, a prominent Egyptian football player in the ranks of Liverpool FC. The Englishman, and internationally famous archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, and others.  He believed that in the event that it was not possible to retrieve the antiquities, the intellectual property right could be negotiated, and work could be done to obtain benefits from the antiquities, such as a percentage of the proceeds from the antiquity visit, which is in the millions of dollars.

One million rare pieces smuggled throughout history How were Egypt's antiquities looted and what are the ways to restore them?

Cairo is intensifying its efforts to recover about a million antiquities stolen by smugglers or looted by colonial countries throughout history, but these efforts are met with intransigence and impossible conditions that make the process of recovering antiquities difficult.

Spain on Monday returned 36 stolen artifacts to Egyptian officials, including statues of deities and urns for preserving mummified entrails.

The Egyptian Public Prosecution stated in a statement that "the extradition process came as a result of concerted efforts between the Public Prosecution, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Spain to coordinate with the authorities there in order to preserve the Egyptian historical heritage (...) and within the framework of the Egyptian state's strategy to preserve its history. and its capabilities.”

Cairo is intensifying its efforts to recover about one million antiquities stolen by smugglers or looted by colonial countries throughout history. However, these efforts are met with intransigence and impossible conditions that make the process of recovering antiquities difficult. Dozens of museums around the world, in addition to international auction houses, are still publicly displaying the stolen antiquities.

How was this huge number of rare antiquities looted, and what are the most prominent countries and entities currently acquiring them? Will the Egyptian efforts to restore its scattered heritage around the world succeed?

Theft, excavation and gifts

Theft is considered the most prominent and widespread reason for smuggling Egyptian antiquities abroad. The thefts date back to the days of the Pharaohs themselves, when tomb workers were stealing expensive items made of gold, and at that time a famous investigation was carried out known as the “Tomb Robbery Papyrus,” according to Magdy Shaker, an Egyptian archaeologist.

The theft continued during ancient times with the Romans who seized the most important pieces of antiquities during their occupation of Egypt during the first six centuries AD. During the following centuries, widespread looting of Egypt's antiquities and ancient heritage spread, until the hieroglyphic writing was revealed in 1822, which increased the greed of Europeans to steal all the antiquities they could reach.

In addition to theft, there are legal and illegal excavations of antiquities, where the first is under the supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities, while the other is carried out stealthily through the people away from the eyes of the official authorities, and the latter causes the antiquities mafia to smuggle and trade antiquities.

And some Egyptian kings and rulers, and even recently, allowed some antiquities to leave Egypt in the form of gifts to strengthen their relations with different countries of the world. The era of Muhammad Ali Pasha was the most widespread period of this phenomenon, as he sought to consolidate his foreign relations, especially with European countries, by presenting them with antiques and artifacts.

The most prominent destinations of smuggled Egyptian antiquities

Britain and France, the two Western colonial powers with the only colonial legacy in Egypt's modern history during the 19th and 20th centuries, have the lion's share of the looted Egyptian antiquities in terms of number and importance. Added to them are Germany, the United States and Italy.

Hussein Dukeil, a researcher and academic specializing in antiquities, compiled a list of the most prominent museums and the bodies that appropriated Egyptian antiquities, stressing that these antiquities are often "the mainstay on which these museums have been built. The squares of those countries are adorned with unique Egyptian obelisks and ancient temples."

The British Museum in London alone contains more than 100,000 pieces of Egyptian antiquities, followed by the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in the British capital as well, which includes about 80,000 Egyptian artifacts, and in the list of other British museums comes the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Fitzwillim Museum. In Cambridge, the Museum of the World in Liverpool and the Manchester Museum in northern England, the total number of Egyptian antiquities in British museums is about 275,000 pieces.

Around the world, the Egyptian Museum in the German capital Berlin possesses nearly 80,000 artifacts that include all Egyptian historical periods, and the Louvre Museum in the French capital of lights, Paris, which includes about 50 thousand artifacts. Many American museums also include hundreds of thousands of Egyptian artifacts, such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Kesley Museum of Archeology in a city in Michigan, each with more than 45,000 smuggled Egyptian artifacts.

Antiquities Recovery Efforts

Egyptologists divide Egyptian antiquities smuggled abroad into three types, the first of which is the category obtained by foreign missions that participated in excavations on antiquities before 1983, which was the time of the issuance of the Antiquities Protection Law, when foreign missions were allowed to obtain a percentage of the discovered antiquities, as well as antiquities. Gifted by the former rulers of Egypt, and they all fall into a category that cannot be retrieved due to their legal exit from the country.

The second category includes the antiquities that were embezzled by the mafia and antiquities thieves and smuggled abroad surreptitiously, and also fall within the scope of antiquities that cannot be recovered because they are not registered, while the third category contains the artifacts that were discovered through various archaeological missions and registered with the Supreme Council of Antiquities and then smuggled abroad. can be recovered.

In this way, the Egyptian government is seeking to prosecute antiquities smugglers and demand various governments around the world to return the antiquities that fall into the third category, while the process of gifting Egyptian antiquities to foreign missions has been halted under the Antiquities Law of 1983, which specialists consider a turning point in protecting Egyptian antiquities from theft and looting. . This comes in addition to toughening penalties for trafficking in antiquities or simply excavating them, to imprisonment for periods ranging between 3 and 7 years, and fines of no less than five hundred thousand Egyptian pounds.

Egyptian antiquities expert Magdi Shaker presented the formation of a “ popular committee to restore heritage ” that includes famous Egyptian figures abroad, and works to recover antiquities smuggled outside Egypt, provided that the committee includes people such as Mohamed Salah, a prominent Egyptian football player in the ranks of Liverpool FC. The Englishman, and internationally famous archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, and others.

He believed that in the event that it was not possible to retrieve the antiquities, the intellectual property right could be negotiated, and work could be done to obtain benefits from the antiquities, such as a percentage of the proceeds from the antiquity visit, which is in the millions of dollars.

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