- Mar 2016
It still seems there is a strong economic drive to network material for money. Especially with the high level of poverty. Even using bulldozers to clear areas of material. With even a broken coffin face going for thousands of dollars.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.
Now that they have decided to take a comprehensive inventory of all storage sites and magazines who knows what wull show up what is missing. Or even if the can determine if anything is missing. I know of some storage sites that have been locked since the 50s or earlier. This is going to get rather interesting. Materials from these locations has shown up on the markets.
There is also strong evidence that some pharaohs repurposed their predecessors burial equipment.