Em 2011 o mundo se viu perplexo com is efeitos da Primavera Árabe. Patrocinada por paises do Ocidente que intencionavam a queda dos governos totalitários do Oriente Medio, varios países tiveram seus Presidentes depostos e presos.

Uma grande confusão se iniciou e com o colapso do Poder Central, pessoas mal intencionadas iniciaram a pratica de vandalismo e saques por vários países .

Como sempre, o Patrimonio se tornou alvo dos malfeitores

Na ocasião, as pessoas tentavam passar uma ideia que tudo estava sob controle, mas chegavam para nos informações de amigos pessoais no Egito e na Siria de que o caos esta acontecendo e entao fizemos essa lista de  saques que acabou sendo reproduzida e publicada em vários sites e ate a UNESCO se pronunciou sobre seu conteudo …  Meses depois , o proprio governo do Egito reconheceu que os danos eram imensos

Como sempre , o Patrimônio é sempre o último a ser socorrido e o primeiro a ser atacado


Dear Colleagues,


UPDATE about the looting of the Cultural heritage of Egypt

  1. Introduction

The list below presents an update about the damage and looting of the

Archaeological Sites and Museums in Egypt.

It was based on many interviews, reports and other dependable sources

available on the internet and also calls I made here and there. We

thank K. Phizackerley for much data. Possibly, this update is not free

of mistakes, and we would be glad if corrections are sent to us.

We have two different categories of reports: that of the Government

and that of other witnesses, researchers and journalists.  Our concern

is related to the integrity of patrimony only.

The worst report is one of a witness saying that in Saqqarah and

Abusir areas, there are gangs of some 200 people working together and

digging extensively in many areas.

As far we were able to search, the real situation is as below:


  1. Damage and Looting

Cairo : National Museum of Antiquities ( Cairo Museum)

According to the reports, ten people invaded the Cairo Museum last

28th Jan from the roof. They stole all the jewelry items in the Gift

shop and looked for precious items in the first floor. They broke 13

showcases and stole some items. The worst was the damage of two

mummies and apparently one was of Thuya, the Mother in Law of King

Amenhotep III. The next information seemed to suggest that they were

in a case that an intruder had fallen on top of and smashed

accidentally, perhaps Late Period non-royal mummies.

Two statues of Tutankhamun were completely damaged but the remains

were left inside the Museum and they can be repaired later.

Later, on 2nd Feb we had the news that the Museum was on fire. Hours

later Reuters showed that some cars beside the Museum burn, but the

Museum was ok. It is now closed and watched by the Army.


Cairo: Coptic Museum

Looters attacked the museum.  It is known that the local Coptic

Egyptians tried to protect it.  A report from Hany N. Takla , suggests

that with the minor exception of a couch and chandelier the museum and

its contents are safe as at 1st February


Museum of Islamic Art ( Cairo)

Ok and safe.


Museum of Memphis

The Museum in Memphis is a small institution roughly 24 km south of

Cairo dominated by a colossal limestone statue of Rameses II . The

Museum and his magazines were robbed on Saturday morning completely.

The guards tried to avoid the looting but in vain. The former Director

of the Egyptian Museum, Wafaa Al-Saddik stated that the destruction

was complete.


Storage areas (Taftish) in Saqqarah and Abusir

The SCA built 36 storage areas along the country in order to keep

antiquities near the areas where they were found. Many Taftish were

looted. The number was not yet confirmed.


The magazines and stores of Abusir were opened and stolen. A source in

Cairo confirmed that the Czech magazine at Abusir and the Cairo

University magazine at Saqqara have been looted. No confirmation could

be had about private tombs. Apparently doors have been forcibly opened

but whether reliefs have been taken is not clear. The inspectors

themselves have not yet had access to all parts of the site.

At both Abusir and Saqqara many sealed tombs have been entered by

thieves, destroying many of the tombs interiors and taking artifacts.

Some of these tombs at Saqqara act as storerooms for many of the

artifacts excavated from the tombs of the Old Kingdom officials. The

storerooms at Abusir contain many royal artifacts excavated from the

royal burial ground, which contains the majority of the pyramids of

the V Dynasty kings. Large gangs of men have been reported as digging

day and night at these sites. The situation at present is still

unclear whether the army has now secured this region or not, although

they have been informed of this activity.


Saqqarah area

An article in Science Magazine (3 February) reports that ‘one

archaeologist present at the cemetery of Saqqara’ said that as many as

200 looters were digging for treasure in the area this past weekend

before police resecured the area. The unnamed excavator also confirmed

rumors that the tomb of Maia, the wet nurse of King Tutankhamun, was

“completely destroyed”.  According to the same article another Western

archaeologist said “we still don’t know the extent of the damage, but

things have been bad and out of control.”

Both Abusir and Saqqara are reported to have suffered a lot of damage

and there are many large gangs digging throughout the night and day.

“All the sealed tombs were entered last 31 Jan night. Only the Imhotep

Museum and the adjacent central magazines are currently protected by

the military. Large gangs are digging day and night everywhere,” said

Monica Hanna, an Egyptian Egyptologist and verified by Mohammad Megahed.

Serapeum broken into and partially set on fire, lots of Ibis mummies

taken. Every tomb there was broken into. The army can chase them away

during the day, but the night is different.


Luxor ( East Bank)

Groups attempted to enter the Luxor Temple but part of population

rallied and avoided any damage. The Museum of Luxor is completely ok.

Quite apart from demonstrating the immense courage of the local people

it also reaffirms that the tourist police protecting the site were

withdrawn en masse and that subsequently one of those police was one

of the leader of the attempt to loot or ravage the temple.

The people, at the ecouragement of the Imams in the mosques, also

protected Christian churches.

Looters tried to break into Karnak Temple over the weekend of 30th

January, but were repulsed by locals, although reportedly the thugs

were armed with guns. The protectors included Mr. Mansour Boraik, head

of the Upper Egyptian Antiquities, and Mr. Ibrahim Soliman, head of

the Karnak Temple. It has been suggested that the attack was aimed at

the Karnak warehouse.  No other reports of attempted looting are

presently known.

Luxor Temple and the Mummification Museum are guarded by soldiers:

Miss Sanaa Aly, the Director of Luxor Museum, has confirmed its

safety.  Apparently the Mosques have been telling their worshippers to

protect the monuments.

Over the weekend of 31st January, there was one report of minor,

unspecified damage in the Luxor area. There are no details at present

and this has not been verified.

The Swiss newspaper NZZ reports that in Luxor an excavation in which

the university of Basel takes part has been attacked by looters. The

source of this information is Antonio Loprieno, head of Basel

University. He suspects that  policemen from a nearby village are



NOTE : One very bad piece of news is that prisons in Qena and Armant

(next to Luxor) have been emptied, so criminals are free and people

fear major looting will occur in that region.  Remember that Qena is

the beginning of the route of the traffic that lead antiquities to the

Red Sea.


Thebes ( West Bank)

The West Bank (where the mortuary temples and the Valley of the Kings

are located) the police have abandoned the monuments so protection is

being organized by local people who are taking measures to ensure that

the sites are safe. Traditionally some individuals collect items

around the site but we don’t have news about looting of the private

tombs of the nobles. There are no protests on the West Bank.


Middle Egypt

There is scarce news of looting in Middle Egypt. Missions in Amarna

and Antinoe have all reported that their sites are undisturbed at the

start of the weekend; their subsequent safety has not been verified.

It has been suggested, however, that the site of Ehnasya

(Herakleopolis Magna) has been severely looted, although again there

is no verification yet.

A report tells that attempts were made over the weekend of 29th/30th

January by a large group of men to rob the open air museum at

Ashmunein, and also an attempt was made to open the magazine at

Bahnasa. Both attempts were foiled by local security personnel.

Similarly, the magazines at Amarna are currently secure. They remain

under guard.  The general practice being adopted is to build

additional stone and concrete walls to protect magazines.

The situation of Middle Egypt now is unknown, but for several years we

have news that groups of looters are digging Christian Cemeteries

there and Coptic textiles are sold abroad. The route is via the Red

Sea, reaching Saudi Arabia and later Turkey.



East of Qantara in the Sinai, there is a large store containing

antiquities from the Port Said Museum. A large group, armed with guns

and a truck, entered the store, opened the boxes in the magazine and

took the precious objects. Some say that some objects were recovered


The Sun also claims that 3,000 articles were taken from the magazine

at Qantara; others were smashed.  In that case, the return of 288

items was reported by the new Minister for Antiquities.

Archbishop Damiano confirmed on 1st February that the monastery of

Saint Aikaterini is safe.



The Museum of Aswan is ok. The Army is said to have secured the Nubian

Museum. The Aswan Museum on Elephantine was approached by looters but

report says that they were turned back by locals. Streets said to be

quiet with army visible but no police.




Groups attempted to enter the Royal Jewelry Museum, National Museum of

Alexandria, and El Manial Museum. Although, with great foresight,

employees of the Royal Jewelry Museum moved all of the objects into

the basement, and sealed it before leaving.

The library is safe, whether they be the staff of the Library or the

representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining others in

guarding the building from potential vandals and looters.

Reports still abound for major looting in the Alexandria Museum—but

those reports are hard to confirm. The violence has been worse in

Alexandria, and there have been few police reports there.”  Later, one

report stated that the Graeco-Roman Museum is safe.




The sites under archaeological operations in the Fayoum have not been

mentioned so far in the reports. Since the focus of the El-Lahun

Survey Project is the monumental area at El-Lahun, it was crucial for

us to have a clear view of what had happened to the Fayoum.

The SCA stated that the sites are generally in poor condition, traces

of illicit diggings have been observed here and there. There was a

fortunately unsuccessful attempt of looting the Karanis (Kom Aushim)

magazine which is now guarded and protected by inspectors of the SCA

and local people. No objects have been stolen.





  1. Conclusion


The Egyptian Government stated a formal recommendation as below:


“ … It is inevitable that some antiquities will make their way on to

the illicit antiquities market. Many antiquities are world famous and

well published making them harder to sell; however, there are many

hundreds of thousands that are not that well published and even more

that have not been excavated as part of an organized legitimate

excavation. There are probably some unscrupulous antiquities dealers

and private collectors who are rubbing their hands at the prospect of

attaining new Egyptian antiquities, it is the responsibility of all

decent law abiding people to be diligent. If any Egyptian antiquities

are offered for sale that have a dubious provenance it is the

responsibility of every museum and individual to report the sellers

straight away to the proper authorities. In the USA the officials from

the Department of Homeland Security, in the UK Her Majesties Customs

and Excise must be extra diligent. The free ports in Switzerland as

well as those in other European countries and Japan should all be

working with Egyptologists and the SCA to ensure that those

responsible are brought to justice and that no illicit antiquities

enter their countries. These criminals must not be allowed to profit

from their crimes against humanity. If you suspect that an antiquity

is looted or you see any looting taking place you should contact the

police, the Art Lost Register, Interpol, CultNat or the SCA, failing

that you can contact Dr Marina Apaydin, Deputy Director Management,

UNESCO World Heritage Centre at m.apaydin@unesco.org, Monica


, Monica.hanna@gmail.com, 00393282069816 or ECHO on


and we will notify the correct legal authorities on your behalf. Our

friends at Looting Matters will also be monitoring this situation very

closely. Although this comment from ECHO focuses on archaeological

sites, artefacts and museums in Egypt, our first concerns are for the

Egyptian people who have demonstrated their wish for social change.

There are many heroes in Egypt, some of whom are our friends and

colleagues, that are helping to protect Egypt’s heritage, for it is

the world’s heritage, and the world send their thanks to all of you.

May God be with the good people of Egypt; our thoughts and prayers are

with you! “


Please note the following statement of Wafaa Al Saddik, former

director of the Egyptian Museum   “ A security guard earns about 250

Egyptian pounds, or 35 € a month. We have about 160 security guards

plus several dozen police officers who are basically conscripts in

police uniforms. These policemen earn even less …” : Cf: http://hyperallergic.com/17896/egyptian-museum-looted-by-own-guards-memphis-looted/


We hope this report underscores the seriousness of the situation and

we stress the necessity of the intervention of international

organizations that can preserve the fragile and invaluable patrimony

that belongs to the Egyptian people and also, to all humankind.


Best regards,


Claudio Prado de Mello ( Prof. Ms)

Archaeologist, Historian and Egyptologist

e-mail: pradodemello@hotmail.com

cellular: 00 55 21 99188-4880

Office of the Archaeological Museum of Mankind: 00 55 21 3012-4908