Ancient Egyptian artefacts looted from Mit Rahina

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 12 Sep 2013

Prosecutor-general investigates theft of hundreds of objects from galleries in Mit Rahina – known in Ancient Egypt as Memphis

Ramses II statue at Mit-Rahina

An investigation is underway into the looting of Ancient Egyptian artefacts from Mit-Rahina (once known as Memphis).

Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has asked the prosecutor-general to question representatives from the Ancient Egyptian department at the antiquities ministry, the director of Mit Rahina archaeological site, and local guards and security personnel about the incident.

The story began last week when inspectors at Mit Rahina found the ceilings of two galleries at the site had been broken.

A comprehensive inventory of both galleries by an archaeological committee found a large number of missing artefacts.

The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) has not reported the exact number of missing artefacts. It has only announced that a legal investigation will conducted and the remaining objects will be moved to a secured gallery.

But according an MSA archaeologist who required anonymity, 261 artefacts were stolen. He also suggested the thief was “probably” an archaeologist with access to the MSA, because papers concerning the missing objects had been removed from the site's files.

He went on to say that according to a report by the archaeological committee, doors, ceilings and the glass of some showcases in the gallery had been broken.

Mit Rahina, then known as Memphis, was the capital of Ancient Egypt for more than eight consecutive dynasties in the Old Kingdom.

The city reached its peak during the 6th dynasty and became the centre of worship for Ptah, the god of creation and art.

Memphis declined briefly after the 18th dynasty with the rise of Thebes and the New Kingdom, but remained the second city of Egypt until 641 CE.

It was abandoned and became a source of stone for the surrounding settlements. It includes ruins of Ancient Egyptian, Ptolemaic and Graeco-Roman temples and chapels.

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