Cairo to Host Conference on Stolen Antiquities

The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced on Wednesday that 30 countries that possess ancient Egyptian monuments and artifacts will participate in a conference next April in Cairo to discuss the restoration and recovery of the artifacts, especially those removed after the signing of a UNESCO agreement in the 1970s.
The secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, said, “The conference, organized by Egypt, aims at discussing the conditions returning antiquities stolen after the signing of the UNESCO agreement.”
As for the effects looted by colonial powers in the 17th and 18th centuries, Hawass said, “This is a big issue that cannot be dealt with now, and while we think it will be discussed in this conference, it won’t be the main focus.”
Egyptian archaeologists believe that there are many ancient Egyptian artifacts that were looted over the centuries, including the planetarium of the Dandara Temple, various statues and obelisks currently decorating European capitals. In addition, they believe other famous items like the bust of Nefertiti and the Rosetta Stone, were acuired through the use of forged.
The late Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri raised this issue in the 1980s with the idea of restoring Greek antiquities, looted by Britain during its occupation, and launched a campaign to recover these relics.
Hawass added that the aim of this conference was, “consultation among these countries to find specific recommendations for the restoration artefacts, including the preparation of a list of all antiquities that these states want to recover from museums around the world.”
The conference will also discuss, ” taking collective action at the international level to support the efforts to retrieve looted antiquities and review international legislation concerning the rights of states to recover their monuments.”
Hawass added that Egypt had a long way to go but has significant experience with the recovery of its stolen monuments. Egypt will put its experience use when dealing with representatives of the participating countries to recover the stolen monuments.
States participating in the conference, in addition to Egypt, will be Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, Iraq, China, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Korea, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Peru.


  1. Dr Hawass should pick his battles more sparingly – the rows over ‘stolen’ artefacts will get him nowhere. Instead he should be pointing towards their cultural context back home. That way he avoids revisiting the mess of imperialism (a fault of the West, admittedly) and can sing the praises of Egypt’s little-heralded but magnificent museums.

  2. This is very interesting. Indeed all nations Israel, Egypt, Greece, Italy etc should all have the rights to regain what has been stolen from them. The history of these artifects belong to the people of those nations. Being a perfessional Archealogist its sometimes very hard to get approvels to study such artifects simply because Governments are scared that it may be stolen. Interestingly its amazing when Pakistan and Afghanistan sits together in this conference, because 80% of the unstudied artfects found in Afghanistan in 60 some 50 remains to the hands of Pakistan who claims it as their own just because they have these western regions whom also considered Afghan. Having to visit Pakistan in 1990s during my studies with my own eyes I saw some 200000 artfects big and small all imported from Afghanistan and we placed them in the museum of Islamabad. So I wonder how could these countries react


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