People Protecting Their Heritage: Revolution and the Cairo Museum

Protesters gathering to prevent further looting of the Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum of Cairo is, without a doubt, the best collection of Egyptian art and artifacts on the planet. The treasures it houses, like the Funerary Mask of Tutankhamun (‘King Tut’), are not only relics of an ancient past, but modern day symbols of the country itself. So when revolution broke out in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2011, it is only natural that Egyptologists the world over worried that looting on the scale of the Baghdad Museum would cripple not only their fields but the heritage of a nation forever.

On January 28, it seemed that their worst fears were well founded when looters broke in. They concentrated for the most part in the museum gift shop, however, and damage in museum proper was minimal. 18 items were looted, but many now have been recovered, including a statue of Tutankhamun that was later discovered buried nearby. On the morning of January 29th, citizens of Cairo formed a human barrier around the building in an attempt to discourage further looting. One man reportedly plead with the protesters at Tahrir, yelling “We are not Baghdad.”

Eventually, the military secured the museum, bolstering its security force substantially against would-be burglars. While the actual damage has been surprisingly minimal, it and looting elsewhere throughout the country, has shaken international confidence that Egypt will be able to keep its treasures safe. Attempts to recover objects like the Rosetta Stone and the Bust of Nefertiti from the foreign museums in which they are housed will no doubt be hindered by this development.

About barlow

My name is Katie Barlow, and like millions of other history and character obsessed people out there, I find other people more interesting than myself. In a way, its the ultimate contradiction, because if that were true, interesting people wouldn't exist, period. But perhaps they don't, and in the end, its what others make of them that allow them to be remembered. So, at the risk of sounding self-important, here's a little about me: -My Dad started taking me to the comic book store when I was five, blew raspberries on my stomach to Aerosmith, and lectured me at bedtime about the Russian Front during World War II. -My Mom taught me that antiquing is awesome, that having the dead eyes of twenty dolls staring at you all the time is not creepy, and that little buggies live on your food, skin, and even your mouth. -My books told me that, no matter how awesome you think you are, fame and fortune in this world is largely based on luck, and a bit based on the people you know. -My family and friends taught me that, in the end, none of that really matters anyways. Oh, and High School and stuff. know the drill. I also REALLY like history. And Dracula...and Aristophanes. Go figure.
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