Guards, guns secure Egypt's ancient treasures again

Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:45pm EDT
 
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By Sarah Mikhail

CAIRO (Reuters Life!) - Security has been tightened around Egypt's antiquities trove, the target of looters during mass protests, the country's top archaeologist said on Monday, adding he would now resume a quest to repatriate prized items.

Several Pharaonic-era treasures went missing when looters broke into the Egyptian Museum on January 28 at the height of clashes between police and protesters who eventually deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

Thieves also broke into a warehouse near the pyramids of Dahshour, 35 km (22 miles) south of Cairo, striking twice within the span of a few days and taking hundreds of items.

Some items have since been returned, and security has been reinstated around several tourist sites after the protests died down and a military council took over from Mubarak.

"We are now protecting the Egyptian monuments, we're putting security everywhere ... we are putting guards with guns everywhere," Zahi Hawass, the Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, told Reuters. "People feel the stability now."

Last week, four Pharaonic items taken from the museum were returned to the palatial building in Tahrir Square, the center of the mass protests.

These included a gilded wooden statue of Tutankhamun, a gilded bronze and wood trumpet and a fan that belonged to the boy king and a small funerary figurine, or ushabti.

CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE   Continued...

 
<p>Assistants at the Ministry of State for Antiquities, show the four objects that have been missing from the Egyptian museum since the January revolution and now returned, at the Supreme Council of Antiquities office in Cairo , April 12, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>