Last Update 11:14
'Derogatory' Champollion statue in Paris angers Egyptians
Statue of Jean François Champollion, who deciphered hieroglyphics, provokes criticism 135 years after it was placed in Collège de France in Paris
Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 26 Feb 2013
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Champollion
Champollion

A statue in Paris of Jean François Champollion, the French archaeologist who deciphered hieroglyphics, has been condemned as "derogatory" and "shameful" by Egyptian Egyptologists.

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi carved the marble statue depicting Champollion standing with his left foot on a pharaonic head in 1875.

It was put on display in the Parc Egyptian created by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette for the Universal Exhibition of 1877.

It was originally intended to be transported to Figeac, the birthplace of Champollion, but the project did not find sufficient support and it remained in Paris. In 1878, the statue was placed in its current location in the courtyard of the Collège de France.

The statue has triggered the anger of Egyptian Egyptologists and the antiquities ministry.

Some Egyptian archaeologists sent a petition to the foreign and antiquities ministries condemning the statue as "derogatory toward Egyptian Civilization."

They urged the French government to remove this "shameful statue."

Omar Al-Hadary, chairman of the Tourism and Antiquities Committee of the Revolutionary Youth Federation, asked the antiquities ministry to stop all French archaeological missions to Egypt until an official apology is made and the statue removed.

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online that he would send an official complaint about the statue to the French ambassador to Egypt and the French culture minister.

"Such a statue disturbs the cultural relationship between Egypt and France which has been good since the French expedition to Egypt," said Ibrahim.

He said he supports creative freedom but things that affect the dignity and reputation of Egypt's cultural and archaeological heritage cannot be ignored.

The French government has not taken action on the issue.





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Ray
09-03-2013 04:07pm
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Historically accurate!
The staute is historically accurate. And is not anti-Egyptian. But Ibrahim's statement about ("good") relations being good since the Napoleonic invasion of his country (between France and Egypt) is incredibly ignorant. Thousands of Egyptians lost thier lives fighting for independence from France in the Cairo rebellion (1798) and other battles.
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Peter Lacovara
01-03-2013 06:57pm
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Wrong interpretation!
This is NOT 'derogatory' this is a idiom in 19th Century art. Everyone understood it at the time and no one took offense. This is being mis-interpreted by people who know noting about art history. I would think with all that is going on, people would focus on legitimate concerns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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looranks
28-02-2013 10:32am
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Beautiful muslim display...
Is there a more backward people than muslims? Judging by living conditions in islamic countries, and given the sense of priorities the egyptians are showing with this, the response is clear. Islam is a one-way ticket to the Stone Age, it becomes everyday more obvious.
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mandla
28-02-2013 08:09am
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The choice
The French have a clear choice whether to uphold colonial ignorance and arrogance or to uphold civility, dignity , decency and good relations with Egypt. They can even remove the Egyptian head and keep Mr Champollion unencumbered by colonial baggage and racial prejudice.
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Roslyn
26-02-2013 11:08pm
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Do not alienate our friends!
This shows the mentality of some Egyptians, who have absolutely no sense of priorities, to keep raising this issue, when Egypt is in total chaos with too many serious problems to even list here. Egypt needs all the friends and support it can muster, do we want to alienate a country, such as France, who has always been a great friend to Egypt over a statue that is 150 yrs old. At the same time, they do not even protect their own treasures. Think about building the future of Modern Egypt rather than focusing on the past or Egypt will regress more than 150 yrs!
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mandla
28-02-2013 08:23am
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strange price to pay for friendship?
Thats a strange price to pay for friendship. I doubt whether Mr Champollion himself demanded this kind of denigration of a culture for his efforts. Everywhere something is depicted under your foot the message sent is clear and unambiguous.
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Tom
26-02-2013 09:56pm
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Please clean infront of your own house first
I feel sad to say that I can only smile in complete disbelief about the story that is unfolding around this statue. It is almost 150 years old so of course it must not nessessaryly reflect the actual point of view. Today it would have been made different maybe. But the now arisen egyptian anger is more then hippocratic. I have seen with my own eyes hot air balloons landing in archaeological sites without any interference by the guards. As I intervened and protested I was told to be quiet as egyptian heritage is egyptians business. When i visit pharaonic places, I see trash been trown in pharaonic tombs and people using them as a toilet. I can instantly name two sites of ancient thousands of years old mudbrick architecture where cattle and sheep walk and climb on them and not only sometimes people, too. I remember countless attempts of temple and tomb guards trying to convince me to touch some relief, especially phallusses for whatever reason. Since the revolution we all hear countl
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Democracia
27-02-2013 12:15pm
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You are so right!
You are so right Tom, I can confirm all what you say and all what you have seen, and I really wonder who are the 40 persons who dislike your comment until now... I guess employees of Supreme Council of Antiquities...
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mohammed
26-02-2013 09:22pm
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Idiots?
"Such a statue disturbs the cultural relationship between Egypt and France which has been good since the French expedition to Egypt," I can't believe. Are they completely idiots?
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Sam Enslow
26-02-2013 07:39pm
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Fake Outrage, Misdirected Outrage
Of all the things to find to be outraged about, people worry about this. The head represents the antiquities of Egypt. A sphinx could have been used. This is an attack on a man who helped open the secrets of ancient Egypt to the world. It has nothing to do with colonalism or domination of Egypt. It is, in fact, a salute to the wonders of Egypt's then just being literally uncovered civilizations.
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mandla
28-02-2013 08:12am
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a strange salute
Its a strange way to salute what you cherish by treading it under your foot. Surely the French have a strange way of showing their appreciation. May wereciprocate the gesture and hpe that you find it endearing. :-)
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medo
26-02-2013 07:26pm
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i have seen everything now!
This story proves beyond reasonable doubt that we have finally gone crazy!!! We find the time to complain about a 150 year old statue while our own citizens are starving and living in places with no running water of electricity, no jobs in the country, no petrol, no tourists and no money! Good to see that the ministers have got free time to deal with such pointless things!
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mandla
28-02-2013 08:14am
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for 150 years
Four 150 years in a country priding itself for enlightenment, liberty and human dignity, not a single Frenchman found the statue offensive!

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