There have been wildly varying accounts of who the looters/vandals actually were. Here is one report, from Egyptology News:
The German newsaper Der Tagesspiegel (thanks Homer) via Google Translate says that the director of the Egyptian Museum, Wafaa el-Saddik, has told one of their journalists that security guards and police officers were responsible for the looting of the Egyptian Museum, apparently in two separate episodes. He is quoted saying that police had removed their jackets so as not to be identified as police officers. A second group of offenders apparently entered from the back of a fire escape through the skylight. El-Saddik goes on to describe how many artefacts were tossed on the floor and are damaged or destroyed, including statues of gods from the treasure of Tutankhamun. Contrary to Hawass’s statement yesterday el-Saddik is quoted saying that looters had stolen pharaonic items. The article in the original German is here.
UPDATED - Thanks to Joris Van Wettering for looking through the original German article. He says that the article adds that most of damage (objects being broken etc) was done on the first floor (erste stockewerke) and that Pharaonic Jewellery (smuckstucke) has been stolen.
This seems to confirm other reports that most of the looting & vandalism in general is actually state-sponsored.
Ugh. How absolutely awful for the government to try to discredit the protestors by destroying and stealing priceless works of art and cultural heritage. Stand strong, Egyptian protestors!
“afghanipoppy: Egypt: A Humble Request
thepoliticalnotebook: Hey, I’m not trying to get all Edward Said on the readership here, but I do have one small request: can we all agree to stop using European historical analogies to describe what is taking place in Egypt? It’s not Europe in 1848 or Eastern Europe in 1989 or France in 1789: it’s Egypt in 2011.
What is taking place in Egypt today is the result of sui generis social, political, cultural and even geographic phenomena. When we use “western” frames of reference to make sense of what is taking place, by contrast, we a) sound really freaking narcissistic and b) fail to take those local phenomena seriously and thus miss a lot of what is going on.
Egypt has been doing this civilization thing, it occurs to me, for quite some time. Maybe even longer than Western Europe (by, oh, a few thousand years or so). So let’s take Egypt and the Egyptians seriously — on their own terms.
- Abu Muquwama”—