With the massive rebellion going on in Egypt, looting and vandalism is an inevitable side effect of such a massive uprising. And the reports coming in in recent hours suggest not only are many peoples’ lives in danger, but there are also several ancient artifacts which are similarly right now taking damage. And with no sign of the protests dying down any time soon, archaeologists worldwide are wondering what the future holds for these artifacts – some of which are thousands of years old.
Looters have allegedly broken into the Cairo museum and destroyed some of the most ancient and precious relics of Egypt’s oldest government – that of the Pharoahs. And while statues were some of the first to be smashed with several now lying in pieces, at least two mummies have also been damaged – though the extent of this damage is still largely unknown.
Display cases have been emptied in the Cairo Museum and several artifacts are reported missing or destroyed. Citizens guarding the old building’s front doors looked on helplessly as looters stormed the roof and broke in, where the destruction began on the second floor.
Zahi Hawass, in an interview with Reuters, voiced his regret for the loss of several objects which can not be replaced. Because the building is next to the National Democratic Party’s headquarters it was right next to the target of much of the crowd’s rage. In the fray two of the mummies were decapitated after being almost perfectly preserved for thousands of years.
Meanwhile, many other artifacts have been kept preserved and the building is now being guarded by the Egyptian military as the streets turn into nothing short of a war zone with protesters calling for the deposing of the current Egyptian government. Tahrir square, the focal point of the violence, has become a site of disharmony and violence in the mean time. Images from Al-Jazeera show the museum entrance now being patrolled by guards wearing riot gear and carrying submachine guns amid the wreckage. Display cases are broken and several artifacts which had previously been considered one of a kind relics of the past litter the floor amid the broken glass.
In times of uprising several individuals often will take the opportunity to steal or vandalize things around them fueled both by rage and a desire for personal gain. Looters and vandals seem commonplace in today’s disasters, but the majority of the museum reportedly remains intact.
But there is still another unconfirmed report coming from Germany’s ZDF television that the members involved on the assault were high ranking members of the ruling National Democratic Party. If this were the case, then the reports could take a troubling turn very quickly. If National Democratic Party Members of high rank were involved in the looting and not just an average person on the street, it would be yet another indicator that things in Egypt are definitely not looking good.