The heads of two mummies have been ripped off and several artifacts damaged by looters at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, as unrest spreads throughout the country. The looters were captured by Egyptian soldiers before they were able to remove anything from the museum, although the gift shop has been heavily looted.
“I felt deeply sorry today when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had tried to raid the museum by force last night,” Zahi Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told reporters. “Egyptian citizens tried to prevent them and were joined by the tourism police, but some (looters) managed to enter from above and they destroyed two of the mummies.”
Germany’s ZDF television has reported that a high-ranking member of the ruling National Democratic Party was involved involved in the attack on the museum, which holds some of the country’s most important historical artifacts, including the King Tutankhamun exhibit.
Earlier in the day, ordinary civilians formed a human chain around the main gates to the museum, in an attempt to thwart anyone from damaging or stealing the museum’s treasures. Egyptian soldiers are now inside the museum and guarding it.
Another threat to the museum remains – the building next-door, which housed the National Democratic Party offices, was overrun by demonstrators and set on fire. “What scares me is that if this building is destroyed, it will fall over the museum,” Hawass explain.
Thomas Campbell, the director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, told the Associated Press, “The significance of the collection of the Cairo museum cannot be understated. It is the great repository of Egyptian art. It is the treasure chest, the finest sculptures and treasures from literally 4,000 years of history. If it is damaged through looting or fire, it would be a loss to all humankind.”
The Egyptian Museum was recently featured on the Museum Secrets television show: