The situation at El Hibeh is dire and immediate. The Save El Hibeh Egypt group on Facebook (http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2012/03/11/pilleurs-d-egypte-intenses-trafics-sur-les-sites-archeologiques_1654534_3218.html) now numbers over 1100 members but still needs more support and more action. The comprehensive press release can be freely distributed and there is also a suggested email and a list of contacts. If you’re on Twitter you can also tweet using the ElHibeh hashtag. Please send the information as far and wide as you can.
The situation at Abu Sir is also dire as you can see here http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/681041
Just this week near Luxor 10 people were killed while digging illegally under a house for antiquities. Four were brothers. Sadly, this tragedy is unlikely to stop looters from continuing to dig.
In fact, looting has been widespread since the Revolution in January last year as poverty or greed drive people to try and capitalise on the more disorganised and difficult security situation.
In Aswan Le Monde reports:
“Since the revolution, people dig like crazy on the western bank of Aswan”, confirms Kelany Adel, Inspector of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt (SCA). “Traffickers, professionals, but also ordinary people. They go crazy when they find a tomb, it’s full of mummies! In the old Aswan, they dig tunnels in their homes than nine meters long … in the granite. In most cases, they find nothing, some pottery, but that’s a lot of deaths (due to various accidents because it is work done by amateurs with no experience) and damage: while digging their tunnels, they destroy the inscriptions engraved in stone. “
Some items have been recovered such as these at Minya http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/696886 but the SCA says 2% of antiquities have been affected. In a country as rich in archaeological treasure as Egypt this is a LOT of pieces. Obviously stopping continued looting is vital as well as recovery of already stolen pieces.
News update from the FB group: Apparently Mohamed Sherdy will be on-air tonight (Wednesday 14th March) on the program Al Qahera Al Youm to discuss the looting of Hibeh and other sites. This will be his third call in one week for security to be restored to all archaeological sites. His last presentation was aggressive, so we await to see what is next. We will post the Arabic broadcast as soon as it is uploaded on the tv’s website tomorrow.
Here is the link to a previous presentation (in Arabic):
This database, http://egyptopaedia.com/2011/ attempts to document all cases of looting both to record historically what happens and to describe the extent of the problem. If you have any information there is a form on the website to contribute data.
All El Hibeh images have been provided by the Hibeh Expedition.