Ancient art stolen from Egyptian Museum recovered by police

ancient art, EgyptEgyptian police have recovered four stolen statues, two of which were taken from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum, Ahram Online reported.

Two of the statues were among several items that went missing when rioters broke into the Egyptian Museum. The other two were apparently looted from somewhere else, perhaps an archaeological site. There were scattered incidents of looting from several museums and archaeological sites across the country during the January Revolution, and the extent of the thefts remains unclear.

The statues are all of bronze and depict important gods such as Osiris, god of the afterlife, pictured here in an image courtesy of user Rama via Wikimedia Commons. This is not one of the recovered statues.

The statues date to the Late Period, a period dating from 664 BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This era saw a final flowering of Egyptian art and religion before it went through a long period of domination and decline under Greeks and Roman rule. When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, poor old gods like Osiris were slowly forgotten.

The thieves possessing the ancient art were arrested. Of the 54 objects missing from the museum, 23 have been recovered.

Egypt back in the tourist business: all ancient sites reopening tomorrow

Egypt, egyptEgypt’s economy was hit pretty hard by the recent political upheaval. More than a million tourists fled the country and much of the nation’s industry ground to a halt.

Now things are getting back to some semblance of normalcy and Zahi Hawass, who’s still Egyptology’s top man despite the change in government, has announced all archaeological sites will reopen tomorrow.

Luxor and its famous temples started reopening earlier this week.

While Egypt is hoping to draw back the tourists to help shore up its economy, the political situation remains uncertain and the U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning on Egypt yesterday reiterating that Americans should avoid all nonessential travel there. The embassy in Cairo is on a reduced staff and only an emergency staff is there at the moment. A curfew from midnight to 6am also remains in effect for everyone, Egyptians and foreigners alike.

So it’s your call. the Egyptians need a bit of help right now, but with the volatile situation it may be a good idea to wait and see how things develop before buying any plane tickets. In the meantime check out the video to see what is waiting for you by the Nile.

[Photo courtesy Karen Green]

Tutankhamun statue and other artifacts stolen from Egyptian Museum, Zahi Hawass reports

TutankhamunThe Head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, has posted some sad news on his blog. During the recent political upheaval in Cairo the Egyptian Museum was broken into and some artifacts were stolen. We reported earlier that two mummies were damaged but nothing was stolen. Now that the museum staff have been able to do an inventory it appears that during that incident the intruders also took some artifacts.

The most famous is a gilded wood statue of Tutankhamun being carried by a goddess, shown here. Another Tutankhamun statue was damaged. Several other priceless artifacts are also missing. A complete list can be found here. Dr. Hawass writes that 70 artifacts were knocked over or damaged.

Dr. Hawass also reports a storeroom near the pyramid at Dashur was broken into. There were attempted break-ins at a few other museums as well. No word yet on any missing artifacts.

The Egyptian Museum is on Tahrir Square where the Cairo protests were centered. Dr. Hawass and museum employees have been sleeping in the museum to protect it. On several occasions during the past weeks many protesters made a human barrier to protect the building. Sadly, the thieves took advantage of the confusion on the street level to break in through the roof.

The BBC reports that previous reports of damaged mummies appear to be incorrect and were the result of confusion over a couple of skulls that had been taken from their cases. Also, a group of suspects have been arrested and are being questioned in relation to the break in. The museum remains closed for an indefinite period.

Cruise lines cancel Egypt through June

Cruise lines cancel egyptRoyal Caribbean and Azamara Club Cruises announced late Wednesday that they will cancel Egypt ports of call through June. This latest blow to Egypt tourism is a good indicator of the situation at ground level but travelers seem undeterred.

To cruise lines, safety of passengers and crew is a top priority. Fired by the US Department of State travel warning for the area, cruise lines were quick to pull ships out of the area, a distinct advantage cruise vacations have over other options. If weather or political conditions make going ashore a bad idea, they can move the ships elsewhere. That itineraries are being modified through June speaks volumes on what the travel industry expects in the foreseeable future of Egyptian tourism.

Top cruise industry information source follows the latest developments and keeps an up-to-date roster of which lines have changed itineraries. In a recent poll, CruiseCritic asked
members if they would consider a trip to Egypt at this point.

Of the 250 respondents, those who had already planned to visit mostly said that they’ll wait until the situation stabilizes. 55 percent said that the unrest hadn’t deterred their future travel plans, close to 19 percent said that as soon as the State Department drops the travel warning, they’ll be visiting the Pyramids, 14 percent said that Egypt remained on their travel wish list, but other destinations had now bumped Egypt down a few spots. 11 percent said a visit to the country was never on their list.

It’s not just Egyptian tourism suffering either.

Citing a “changing political environment” Disney Cruise Line as well as land tour operator Adventures by Disney dropped Tunisia from all land and sea tours last weekend. Yesterday, SeaDream Yacht Club added to the list of lines avoiding violence in Tunisia.

“We continually evaluate our itineraries, and the decision to modify this itinerary was made in part due to the changing political environment in Tunis and the recent Travel Alert issued by the U.S. Department of State for Tunisia,” Disney spokesperson Christi Erwin Donnan told USA TODAY.

Because these drops are a result of US State Department travel advisories, it’s possible that they will be extended past their scheduled changes as further developments occur in the troubled region.

Flickr photo by ayman_17

Evacuation of foreigners from Egypt: what you need to know

Rising threats of violence and political unrest in Egypt has prompted many foreign visitors and residents to plan evacuation plans. Our friends over at World Nomads have compiled a highly-useful guide to evacuation procedures for countries like the United States, Australia, Turkey and the UK.

US Citizens: The latest updates are on the State Department’s website.

Air travel ticket holders, take note: Delta has suspended flights to Cairo indefinitely at this time, while an American Airlines and British Airways have announced that tickets to and from Cairo can be changed at no charge. Emirates and Etihad are currently operating as scheduled, but travelers should expect long delays at the airport and a “far from normal” operating schedule.