Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art—home to almost 100,000 priceless artifacts that comprise one of the world’s most important collections of its kind—was extensively damaged when a car bomb exploded early Friday morning outside police headquarters across the street.
The blast was the first of four that rocked the Egyptian capital today, reportedly killing at least six people and injuring more than 90.
As the first bomb blew a crater into Port Said Street, it ripped into the facade of the two-story museum, which is more than 100 years old. Intricate designs in the Islamic style were pulverized.
The extent of damage to the collection is not yet known, but a cultural heritage expert who arrived early at the scene said on Facebook that “It seems that most of the artifacts have been turned to dust by today’s blast.” Read more.
An Egyptian was arrested allegedly trying to smuggle a wooden Coptic Christian icon at the Cairo International Airport.
Airport police refused to reveal the person’s identity before furthering investigations.
The suspect was allegedly smuggling the icon to sell it on the antiquities black market abroad but realising customs would look into his luggage before boarding, he tried to get rid of the icon.
The police called the airport’s archaeological unit to investigate, who confirmed the relic’s authenticity. Read more.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of State for Antiquities received five Ecuadorian and Peruvian artefacts confiscated from Cairo International Airport.
The artefacts include three Ecuadorian heads carved in black wood that date back to 800BC, and two Peruvian statues that date to 250BC.
Official Ahmed El-Rawi told Ahram Online that the statues were confiscated in March when the police at the airport caught an Egyptian citizen trying to illegally smuggle the objects to Alexandria. The objects had been transported to Egypt from the United States in a wooden box.
The objects are now at the Egyptian museum in central Cairo, and will be handed over to the Ecuadorian and Peruvian embassies this week. (source)
On Wednesday evening a group of engineers, archaeologists and activists gathered in front of the Cairo governorate building protesting the spread within the distinguished alleys and streets of Old Cairo of ugly cement buildings.
“This phenomena is destroying the character and structure of Old Cairo,” said archaeologist Nairy Hampikian, adding that Cairo has long suffered from dreadful urban planning that became chaotic in the last two years.
Amid a lack of security oversight, large and “ugly” buildings spread quickly among the narrow allies of Historic Cairo, disfiguring its distinguished scenery. “To express our anger and rejection of what is happening to our Cairo,” said Hampikian, “we decided to protest at the doorstep of Cairo governorate.” Read more.
CAIRO - The keeper of Egypt’s archaeological treasures sees hope for the nation’s future in its pharaonic past.
Mohammed Ibrahim, head of the antiquities ministry, likens Egypt’s turbulent emergence from autocracy to the periods of decline that afflicted the nation on the Nile between the fall and rise of its three ancient kingdoms.
"We have passed through similar periods like that, even in antiquity," said Ibrahim, custodian of the pyramids, tombs and temples that bare witness to one of the world’s oldest civilizations. "Every time Egypt passes through this period, it recovers very quickly, very strongly." Read more.
Egypt’s antiquities minister announced on Friday the discovery of a princess’s tomb dating from the fifth dynasty (around 2500 BC) in the Abu Sir region south of Cairo.
"We have discovered the antechamber to Princess Shert Nebti’s tomb which contains four limestone pillars," Mohamed Ibrahim said. The pillars "have hieroglyphic inscriptions giving the princess’s name and her titles, which include ‘the daughter of the king Men Salbo and his lover venerated before God the all-powerful," he added. Ibrahim said that the Czech Institute of Egyptology’s mission, funded by the Charles University of Prague and directed by Miroslav Bartas, had made the discovery.
"The discovery of this tomb marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the sepulchres at Abu Sir and Saqqara," Ibrahim said. Read more.
CAIRO — Cairo’s salmon-colored Egyptian museum is a conspicuous landmark on Tahrir Square, where it stands in almost perfect condition despite the intense protests that took place on its doorstep almost two years ago.
At the height of the revolution last year, a human chain formed to protect the priceless artifacts within the museum. A few yards away, the burnt out husk of former President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party headquarters is a reminder of a different possible fate.
But the revolutionary, carnival enthusiasm of the square has since given way to neglect and disrepair and the difficult job of retrieving stolen antiquities is proving to be an uphill struggle.
Despite the efforts of its protectors, looters managed to make off with 50 of the museum’s treasures, including a statue of King Tutankhamun carried by a goddess, and a sandstone head of a princess from Amarna, a vast archaeological site in the southern province of Minya. Read more.
During construction work carried out by the Ministry of Endowments at the Al-Khamis market area, which is next to the archaeological site of Matariya in northern Cairo, workers stumbled upon a part of an ancient Egyptian stele.
Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim explained that the newly-discovered stone artefact is the right section of a New Kingdom stele, on which is displayed a complete, illustrated list of various offerings to ancient Egyptian deities. A collection of geese, vegetables, fruits, bread, and cattle is depicted.
Lotus flowers are also shown, as well as religious worship poetry in hieroglyphic form.
Although the cartouche of the owner or the reign when it was engraved has not yet been identified on the stele, Ibrahim said that it would reveal more of the history of this mysterious area, which includes monuments from the early pharaonic to the Ptolemaic era. Read more.