Monday, 14 May 2012

In Egypt turmoil, thieves hunt treasures

Taking advantage of Egypt's political upheaval, thieves have gone on a treasure hunt with a spree of illegal digging, preying on the country's ancient heritage.

Illegal digs near ancient temples and in isolated desert sites have swelled a staggering 100-fold over the past 16 months since a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak's 29-year regime and security fell apart in many areas as police simply stopped doing their jobs. The pillaging comes on top of a wave of break-ins last year at archaeological storehouses - and even at Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, the country's biggest repository of pharaonic artifacts.

Horrified archaeologists and antiquities authorities are scrambling to prevent smuggling, keeping a watch on European and American auction houses in case stolen artifacts show up there.

Ahram Online

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