February 17, 2011 – It is unbelievable what was stated in an article recently published in the German newspaper ‘Die Welt’. 125,000 Euros – that was the sum the Egyptian Museum in Cairo took every day. Nevertheless, there was never enough money available to pay the staff or to equip the museum according to the requirements. The better part of the money, you see, had to be paid over to the Mubarak regime.
Money was generated mainly by turnkey exhibitions Egypt sent museums. In 2004, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Philippe de Montebello, informed the public what he should have paid for the presentation of the decoration of the tomb of Tutankhamun: $ 10 million for each location. Other American museums were only too willing to agree on these terms. In the end of the day, the visitor was obliged to pay not the usual $ 9 entrance fee but $ 30.
It becomes clear that, when voicing his return requests, Dr Hawass’ main agenda was not the cultural heritage but financial interests of the Mubarak regime. The Egyptian people possibly would not have benefited from the return of Nefertiti – in contrast to the Egyptian government which would have lent the delicate sculpture to anyone willing to pay for an exhibition.
The sad picture is affirmed by an open letter written by an insider, Chief Conservator Dr Hany Hanna, member of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt. In this letter he demands an end of the system of corruption in archaeology as whose “first” he addresses Zahi Hawass. He calls for allocating positions according to competence and not to connections.
If you like to read the open letter please click here.
As a matter of fact, the Egyptian people seem to be tired of the practices of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, too. On the internet a picture of a demonstration against Zahi Hawass circulates…
If you like to have a look at the picture please click here.