Richard Engel of NBC News has produced a piece that reflects the views of Egypt’s cultural bureaucracy under the old guard in the person of Zahi Hawass and his allies in the American archaeological community.
Yet, does Engel’s reporting really match the reality on the ground or just the propaganda of Egypt’s discredited cultural bureaucracy, which must be desperate to justify itself to Egypt’s new Islamic rulers?
The real issues are that there are no police to protect the sites, the people are desperately poor, and the Egyptian cultural bureaucracy wants to control more than they can or should (even what you find under your own house!).
One should also note for all the talk about criminal looters from Hawass (allegedly a crook on a much larger scale -- a subject Engel studiously avoided broaching) and an American archaeologist, all I saw were locals looking for stuff presumably to feed their impoverished families.
Perhaps in the complete absence of police American archaeologists should pay for local security guards to protect their sites. Their salaries can't cost all that much. I'm also mystified how looters can find a previously unknown tomb and loot it overnight on a site that has apparently been under archaeological investigation for years. Perhaps now unemployed diggers for American archaeologists knew about the tomb for years, but did not to divulge it to them out of distrust of foreign archaeologists who would take these treasures from them.