Monday, March 19, 2012

Update on the Situation at El Hibeh

From Carol Redmount, in charge of the mission at El Hibeh:

"Yesterday I went to the taftish to meet with Mme. Nadia Ashour, the Director of the Beni Suef Inspectorate. She gave me a warm welcome while we waited two hours for our police escort. When we arrived at the site we officially opened the magazine, which was intact, and I selected the material to be transferred to the storehouse at Ihnasya el-Medinah. Mme. Nadia spoke with the guards and inspectors and various others at the site and then, to my delight, asked me if I would like to walk on the tell and if I had a camera with me. The answer to both questions was yes. Mme. Nadia requested copies of all the pictures I was going to take, which of course I will be delighted to give to her, both as a flash drive and as printed copies." So we all made an inspection of the site together, Mme. Nadia, myself, several inspectors from the Beni Suef Inspectorate, two of whom, Ahmed and Rabi', had worked with us before, and our security escorts. We saw the mummy featured in the newspaper outside the entrance to city. I finally set eyes on the beautiful uraeus frieze above the limestone doorway of what must once have been a beautiful tomb, now emply. There was lots of evidence of looting in the cemetery in front of the north entrace to the site, but I am also happy to report no obvious signs of major bulldozing. I am going to compare the pictures I took yesterday with earlier photos. Walking through the north entrance, it was a physical shock to see the many looting holes still visible and the mounds of earth next to them. Our group walked all over the site together and I took photographs until my battery died. There are holes everywhere, some many meters deep. It is also clear that many other holes have been dug and filled in, so the true extent of the damage is even greater than first appearances. Everyone was appalled at the damage from the looting and many other people took pictures also. Mme. Nadia especially was furious and asked me again for copies of pictures so that she could write a very strong report about the looting. It was wonderful to walk together in solidarity on the tell with my Egyptian colleagues, and to all work together to continue our efforts to end the looting and destruction of Hibeh. After visiting the site, we all proceeded to the Ihnasya el Medinah storeroom where Atef Helmy, who is in charge of the Ihnasya storehouse, had been waiting for us all day. We were very late because of our visit to the tell and our late start. Mr. Helmy gave us all a very warm welcome. Our team is also looking forward to working with him and our inspector as we do our studies at the Ihnasya storehouse. Yesterday was, I believe, a big step forward in our quest to protect Hibeh, and we thank all of you, the SCA, and especially our Egyptian colleagues, for all your help. Our job is not finished, however, as the site is not yet protected and the gangster is free to come back today and continue looting the site whenever he pleases, which he undoubtedly will do. Hbeh, and sites like it all over Egypt still need protection."

For more information about how you can help, see my post of March 16:

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