Prized objects missing from Egypt Museum
A statue of King Tutankhamun and objects from the time of the rebel Pharaoh Akhenaten are among the missing artifacts.
Sun, Feb 13, 2011 at 10:10 AM
STOLEN: The thieves knew exactly which pieces they wanted, because they descended to the museum's lower floor and grabbed the objects from glass cases while ignoring others nearby. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
CAIRO - Prized artifacts are missing from the Egyptian Museum after looters broke in during unrest last month, including a statue of King Tutankhamun and objects from the time of the rebel Pharaoh Akhenaten, the country's top Egyptologist said on Sunday.
The thieves apparently knew which pieces they wanted, because they descended to the museum's lower floor and grabbed the objects from glass cases while ignoring others nearby, a second Egyptologist said.
Among missing pieces was a gilded wood statue of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Tut being carried by a goddess, according to Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist recently appointed minister of state for antiquities affairs.
Also taken were pieces from the Amarnah period, including a sandstone head of a princess and a limestone statue of Akhenaten holding an offering table, Hawass said in an e-mailed statement.
"An investigation has begun, to search for the people who have taken these objects, and the police and army plan to follow up with the criminals already in custody," the statement said.
Hawass said earlier that thieves had broken in through the roof of the museum on Jan. 28 at the height of clashes between police and protesters who eventually toppled President Hosni Mubarak last week. He said at the time that the thieves had smashed glass cases on the upper floor.
Some of the missing objects were especially prized objects that had been on display in cases on the ground floor, said Salima Ikram, an Egyptologist at Cairo's American University.
"They are not something you would come and randomly find," Ikram said. "It looks like they could have been targeting the stuff downstairs."
Other stolen artifacts include a statue of Akhenaten's wife Nefertiti making offerings, a stone statuette of a scribe from Amarna, 11 wooden funerary figurines, or shabti statuettes, and a heart scarab of the 18th Dynasty official Yuya.
The torso and upper limbs of a gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun harpooning was also missing.
Akhenaten, who reigned about 1,350 B.C., is renowned for abandoning the traditional gods and introducing worship centered on the sun disk Aten, and for establishing a new capital at Amarnah, 250 km south of present-day Cairo.
A storehouse near the pyramids of Dahshour, 35 kilometers south of Cairo, was broken into overnight on Feb. 11, but the statement did not say if any items were missing.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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