Just Ancient Egypt

John B

Ad Honorem
Mar 2016
3,703
Canada
This page give the citation yo the robbery trial in the late New Kingdom.
Tomb Robbing in Ancient Egypt

"Confessions from criminals convicted of tomb robbing multiply toward the end of the New Kingdom. The courts seem to have dealt with these cases on an almost daily basis. The Mayer Papyri (c. 1108 BCE) records a number of cases detailing how those caught desecrating and robbing tombs were "tortured at the examination on their feet and their hands to make them tell the way they had done exactly" (Lewis, 257). Testimonies are recorded by police officers and chiefs regarding the suspects and how they were caught. Punishments are most often recorded as beatings with a rod (bastinade) on the soles of the feet and flogging but could be as severe as amputation of the hands and nose or even death by impalement or burning. "
 

John B

Ad Honorem
Mar 2016
3,703
Canada
It is rather odd that with the Egyptian love of paperwork and reporting that the record keeping was so horrid. The only way for context to be recaptured would to get hold of the the reports held in the concession holders archives. Egyptology has a serious issue with compilation of information and data. Much too much is religiously guarded as academic property. Often linked to personal careers and reputations. The field is also littered with subjective findings that end up as dogma. Egyptology in some cases is still limited by the Victorian mind set that started it off.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,195
Crows nest
In his 1993 publication, The Rape of Tutankhamun, John Romer let loose a broadside against all manner of bad things occurring in the VoK. One of the chapter subsections is titled "Bloody Tourists", and describes them as a flood as damaging as the flash floods.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,688
Lago Maggiore, Italy
In Italy the Army of Carabinieri is entitled to investigate about the illegal trade of ancient finds. A good part of the pieces they recover is Egyptian. To be fair, in the last years a not irrelevant quantity of pieces comes from Iraq [you know the effects of a war ...], anyway Egyptian finds are still well present on the Italian illegal market.

The problem is that common Egyptians [like common Iraqis and other] don't understand that easy money for them means a damage to the richness of their country. An aspect of the problem is that some religious individuals tend not to give importance to an "infidel" past [this is true about Christians, Muslims, Hindus ...].

But ... if someone is ready to sell and smuggle ... someone is ready to buy.

It would be simple to stop this illegal trade if we, rich Westerns, stop to buy ancient Egyptian finds on the black market.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
2,195
Crows nest
Maybe the threat of applying the punishment for tomb robbery in pharaonic times might help, but then it didn't stop the thieves back in the day. I guess only education will lessen the problem.
 
Mar 2017
854
Colorado
The modern scholar Okasha El Daly combines Egyptology with Arabic studies. Consequently, he provides a wealth of new information, translating books from the Islamic Empire which themselves are translations of Greek & Egyptian papyri. His book "Egyptology: The Missing Millenium" has a chapter on "Treasure Hunting."

"In Ancient Egypt, with its vast treasure of great antiquity, treasure hunting became a full-time profession and at times was even under state patronage. The tradition of exploiting ancient treasure certainly goes back to pharaonic Egypt. This is seen in the 'Admonition of Ipuwer' who lametned that even the royal treasury had been completely robbed during the First Intermediate Period (Parkinson 1997: 166ff)

Records of police investigations into tomb robbery in the New Kingdom show the spread of the practice (Breasted 1927 r:246ff). At the end of the New Kingdom treasure hunting was officially instigated and sanctioned to help the ailing economy (Reeves and Wilkinson 1996:204f). The same process was also recorded during the Ptolemaic period. According to Strabo (Geography 17.1.8-9), a Ptolemaic king stole the gold coffin from the tomb of Alexander the Great and replaced it with one made from alabaster or glass."

He goes on to describe how during the Islamic Empire, tomb robbing became a major, state-controlled enterprise. They were digging everywhere and the successes were so fabulous, the many failures & deaths were ignored. Sultans and even minor adminstrators accumulated vast amounts wealth, decorating their homes with artifacts that didn't have immediate value.

"The supervision of treasure hunters which started under Ibn Tulun developed, under the Fatimids, into a guild with its head known as Naqeeb Al-Majtalibeen 'Chairman of the Guild'. Al-Maqrizi (It'az 2:88) regarded the death of one such chairman as an event important enough to be noted in his historical annals, in this case a man named Abu Al-Hassan Ali Ibn Ibrahimi Al-Nursi (died 1010 CE)."

"Guild of Tomb Robbers'" - sounds like an Indiana Jones title.

We're lucky modern archeologists found anything .... and there's STILL stuff in tombs? After 1000's of yrs of looting? The sheer volume is unimaginable.
 

John B

Ad Honorem
Mar 2016
3,703
Canada
It does seem that the idea of collecting or selling cultural heritage items is seen by more people as repugnant. Even now what is a legal sale of an item these days cfeates backlash in some areas. Maybe this will get better. Killing the market to some extent.