Just Ancient Egypt

John B

Ad Honorem
Mar 2016
3,889
Canada
They are in a moral morass and know it, but I don't ever expect them to admit it as it's all about the $$$ and nothing else.

I'm not holding my breath, but I do wonder if one day teams of Egyptian "repo men" will appear in Rome to take possession of the Laterenense, Vaticano, Flaminio, Solare, Macuteo, Minervio, Dogali and Matteiano obelisks and take them back to Heliopolis, Karnak and Philae. Okay, it could be argued that as Egypt was a province of Rome when they were removed, then it was not theft but a transfer of objects within the same political entity, but a vast amount of other items since was just looting.
I may also interject that Egypt has problems managing what they have. They can not control the basics as is.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,892
I could say that as from the mid 19th century until into the 20th, Egypt was controlled by European banks and governments, the French and British, and predominantly the British ending up with the "protectorate", any laws made governing the removal of antiquities between 1867 and 1952 can have no moral authority as they were dictated by external powers.
It was the Khedival government itself that hired Auguste Mariette to head the Service d'antiquités in the 1850's. The first thing he had to do was go after local government functionaries doing a brisk trade in Egyptian artifacts.

The Service d'antiquités for most of its history at least had the advantage of being run by Frenchmen in Egyptian service, and not the British who took over the country.

As for the Nefertiti situation, best accounts I've seen indicate that the German archaeologists did follow the letter if not spirit of the agreement it had with the Service d'antiquites. They knew they had a killer-piece, and so made sure it was hidden somewhere in the otherwise less desirable pile of finds that that were to be divided 50/50 with the service. They banked on the government functionary not looking too closely and going for the obvious stuff. Turned out they were correct.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
Which is why I book ended the dates 1867 to 1952. However, it's true that the Egyptians themselves were less than diligent in protecting their own heritage, and we see that in the damage done by locals to tombs after discovery by Europeans, for instance KV35, and indeed widespread looting after the events of 2012 and continuing until the restoration of order under Sisi. The point I make though is that between 1867 and 1952 they were not really in control of their own country and things left that should not have due to laws favourable to foreigners. I know the milk cannot be put back in the bottle and we have what we have, but the situation vis-à-vis the Service d'antiquités and "explorers" should not have been that the "explorers" keep some and we keep the rest, but that we keep it all, as has been the case now for a long time. I'm imagining a situation where the Egyptians had the UK as their protectorate over the same time frame, and allowed some of the Sutton Hoo treasure to leave the country, so if we wanted to see the helmet we don't take a daytrip to the British Museum, but had to go to Cairo, or some other city, Berlin maybe.
 
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