Since the revolution of the 25th of January 2011, Egyptian heritage has been exposed to unprecedented danger. Museums are being targeted for destruction and theft archaeological buildings are being demolished.
The political unrest in Egypt has an harmful impact on Egyptian heritage because it has created a background that facilitates the proliferation of organised antiquities gangs that plundered museums such as the Egyptian Museum and the Malawi National Museum,. There is an absence of cultural awareness on the part of the public as there are no socio-economic benefits to make them protect archaeological sites such as Dahshur, which was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1979 but is now unprotected. In addition, city inhabitants are still creating illicit new cemeteries. We will now talk about the most prominent encroachments following the 2011 revolution. Looting of the Malawi National Museum The Malawi National Museum is located about 300 kilometres south of Cairo and was opened in 1963 to showcase finds from excavations at nearby sites. The museum contained irreplaceable artifacts dating from ancient Egyptian times to Islamic times including animal mummies, religious offerings, painted wooden coffins, scarabs, amulets, coins, stone statues, bronze statues and funerary masks that had survived in good condition for more than 2,000 years.
all of the archaeological objects were looted, while other objects that were too heavy to be transported were vandalised. Some areas inside the museum were also burned. The rioters broke the surveillance cameras at the museum. The looting of the Malawi National Museum took eight hours to run its course.
Even though the city police station is very close to the Malawi Museum, there were no security forces to rescue the museum from the looting and vandalism.
The Minister of State for Antiquities decided to form an archaeological committee to inspect the losses and identify the number of stolen artifacts. They set up a list of missing artifacts to send to Egyptian ports to prevent any attempts to smuggle the objects outside of the country. When the archaeological committee entered the museum, they found that the museum was full of shards of pottery, shattered glass from display cases and the charred remains of the sarcophagi and mummies. After an investigation that lasted six hours, they announced that almost all of the archaeological objects had been looted and the number of missing objects was 1040 out of 1089 artifacts.
A mission of UNESCO experts visited the site from 11 to 16 September of that same year confirmed the looting and devastation suffered by the Malawi National Museum. UNESCO reiterated that any objects originating from the museum are internationally identified and recorded, selling and purchasing these objects inside and outside Egypt is illegal. The Minister of State for Antiquities announced that no legal proceedings would be taken against anyone who handed back any of the museum’s artifacts to the curators and conservators. It was also promised that the Ministry would reward a sum of money to anyone who could retrieve two particular statuettes. As a result, five days after the looting of the Malawi National Museum, the town inhabitants managed to recover the two statuettes representing the god Osiris. The appeal resulted in ten additional objects being received back and subsequently transferred to a store house in Ashmonien. Four months later, the Tourism and Antiquities police recovered the statue of the daughter of Pharaoh Akhenaton. In December 2013, the Minister of State for Antiquities announced that 800 stolen objects from the Malawi Museum had been recovered. The restoration plan would be carried out by the service agency of the army under supervision of the Ministry of State for Antiquities while Al-Minya Governorate would provide a budget of approximately three millions Egyptian pounds (£260,000). It is understood that the restoration process on the museum’s building will last approximately 6 to 8 months.