Ongoing looting at El Hibeh and other sites in Egypt

Massive, systematic looting continues at sites across Egypt–(see here for earlier reports on the wide-spread looting in Egypt).  With the ongoing political instability, the archaeological lands have been left largely unprotected.  Local people, who have protected their antiquities to the best of their abilities, have had little to no official support and are totally overwhelmed by armed mafia who have become so brazen they dig in broad daylight.

At the important site of El Hibeh, approximately 3 hours north of Cairo, an armed gang led by an escaped convict has taken to tunneling into the ancient mound.  They have left huge craters all over the site and strewn human remains like litter.  Dr. Carol Redmont of the University of California, Berkeley, whose team has carefully excavated this fascinating settlement for several years, has released a press report on the situation in El Hibeh.  She and her team have also been posting photos (from numerous sources) in their Save El Hibeh Facebook group  corroborating the extent of the damage–several images are provided side-bys-side with the excavation photographs to highlight the illicit digging, massive pits are visible throughout the site, and mummy fragment with signs of fresh damage lie scattered on the sands.  Many of these disturbing images can be found in the Past Horizons archaeology blog.

Reports from around the country sadly show that this destruction is far from isolated:

Le Monde article on looting in Egypt (in French)

English translation of the Le Monde article on looting.

At Abusir, south of Cairo, reports that a sea of garbage threatens to drown the archaeological lands even while they are plundered.

In a town just north of Luxor, ten looters carrying out an illicit dig under a house were buried alive when the walls collapsed. 


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The Art of Counting is dedicated to the memory of Margery Meilleur, who first taught me to view history through the eyes of the images we create.