As the Egyptian army begins to take back control of Egypt, the fallout from the country’s latest unrest is coming into focus. In addition to the lost lives and unsure political situation, the cultural heritage of Egypt is, unfortunately, another victim of the situation.
UNESCO today announced that experts sent to Egypt to investigate the country’s Malawi National Museum in Minya have returned some bad news. Nearly all of the collections at the Malawi museum were looted during August. Of the museum’s 1080 artifacts, around 600 of them are now missing. One bright spot of news from the investigation is that the Malawi museum itself is “not badly damaged.”
The UNESCO antiquities experts also combed other sites that were damaged in the recent clashes. The group, which included Pierre-André Lablaude, France’s chief architect of historical monuments, also visited three historical churches (Evangelical Church in Minya, Amir Tadros Monastery in Fayoum, and Franciscan Sisters School in Beni Suef) that were looted and set on fire. The experts also visited several sites at the request of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, including the Villa Casdagli, which UNESCO described as “sound despite superficial damage.”
One month ago, when news of the Malawi museum looting became known, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova condemned the acts. She also called on Egyptian authorities to protect historical sites and prevent the sale of artifacts stolen from the museum.
“Egypt’s exceptional cultural heritage is not only an inheritance of the past, reflecting its rich and diverse history; it is also a legacy for future generations and its destruction seriously weakens the foundations of Egyptian society,” said Bokova.
(Image courtesy UNESCO)