Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Rosetta Stone: Clarification from Hawass

Zahi Hawass has commented further on the request for the Rosetta Stone (Harpreet Bhal, "Egypt to ask British Museum for Rosetta Stone", Reuters, December 14, 2009). In an interview held over last weekend, Hawass told Reuters:
I did not write yet to the British Museum but I will. I will tell them that we need the Rosetta Stone to come back to Egypt for good ... The British Museum has hundreds of thousands of artefacts in the basement and as exhibits. I am only needing one piece to come back, the Rosetta Stone. It is an icon of our Egyptian identity and its homeland should be Egypt.
He seems to have moved his position from his earlier request of a loan for the opening of the Giza Museum in 2012. Reuters commented that Hawass "would no longer settle for just a loan".

I was interviewed for the report and talked about the issue of other issues in the collection:
The whole issue for the British Museum is if they say we're going to give you back the Rosetta Stone, it sets a precedent.
The case for the universal museum displaying objects from world cultures was made in an interview with a tourist from Japan:
It is easy to travel here especially for tourists compared to travelling to Egypt. And that makes it open to everybody.
The British Museum issued a short statement last week in connection with Hawass' visit to the Museum:
The current situation with regard to the Rosetta Stone is that the Museum has received a request from the Supreme Council of Antiquities requesting the short term loan of the stone for the opening of the new museum in Giza in 2012 or 2013. The Trustees of the British Museum will consider this request in due course.

The British Museum exists to tell the story of cultural achievement throughout the world, from two million years ago to the present. The Museum is a unique resource for the world: the breadth and depth of the collection allows a wide public to re-examine cultural identities and explore the complex network of interconnected human cultures. The Trustees feel strongly that the collection must remain as a whole in order for the Museum to continue to fulfil this purpose.



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1 comment:

DR.KWAME OPOKU said...

The British Museum continues to use the very argument which upsets most of us, namely, that because it has items from many parts of the world, it should be allowed to keep the objects that are highly contested, such as the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles and the Benin Bronzes. So we cannot have the Benin Bronzes because the museum also has the Ethiopian crosses and documents. The Egyptians cannot have the Rosetta Stone because the museum has the Parthenon Marbles. Somebody should help the museum to provide a better argument than this.

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