Egyptian archaeologists have been taking a break from the sun lately to excavate the hidden depths of the national museum in Cairo, reports Archaeology News. They’re refurbishing The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities before opening a bigger museum near the pyramids at Giza. Part of the project is to go through all the poorly recorded artifacts that have been languishing in the basement since they were excavated decades ago.
They’ve recently found nine artifacts that don’t appear in museum records, including stones with hieroglyphs and a sacred table to make offerings to the gods.
This isn’t the first time new old stuff has turned up in the museum. Random bits that have come the museum’s way over the years that archaeologists have considered possible fakes have traditionally been buried in the museum’s garden. These are now being dug up again and examined.
While the whole thing sounds ridiculous (and is) this former archaeologist is cautiously optimistic that a new day is dawning for the Egyptian Museum. When I was there in 1991, a little baksheesh (tip/bribe) to a guard got me a tour of the back rooms. Rows of dusty wooden crates stuffed with artifacts stood unstudied on shelves. Their labels were yellowed and faded, and many had drifted to the floor to crunch like autumn leaves underfoot, leaving the crates and the artifacts they contain cut off from any record of where they had been found.
Archaeology in Egypt is getting more serious than it was in those dark days. Dedicated professionals like Dr. Zahi Hawass are fighting bureaucracy, corruption, and poor funding to give Egypt’s past the respect it deserves. Here’s hoping they succeed.