Archaeologists and guards at Gabal Al-Silsila archaeological site, 20 kilometres north of Kom Ombo city in Aswan, succeeded in catching a group of thieves who in full view had tried to remove King Meneptah’s stelae from its original position on the wall of his chapel.
Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said the theft attempt was discovered late last night when permanent archaeologists at the site realised that four people were in front of King Meneptah’s stelae trying to hack it off the wall with an axe and digging tools. With the help of guards, archaeologists surrounded the criminals and caught them red handed. The Tourism and Antiquities Police came and took the criminals into custody.
Abdel Moneim Saeed, director of Kom Ombo site, said an early inspection of the stelae revealed that it had been partly damaged by the hard tools used in the theft attempt, especially its lower part which is now dotted with holes. But he assures the damage can be restored and the stelae returned to its original condition.
Abdel Hamid Maarouf, head of the ancient Egypt section at the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), told Ahram Online that the Meneptah stelae is located between two chapels of kings Meneptah and his father, Ramses II. It is a rocky stelae carved in rock and engraved with hieroglyphic text and decorated with a scene depicting King Meneptah offering god Amun Re the sign of justice, Maat.