Skip to main content

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.



Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.