So a young man reportedly said to SAFE award winner Monica Hanna to explain his participation in the looting and destruction of the Minya Museum with other locals angry that the military had deposed their Muslim Brotherhood president.
CPO will report more on other revealing admissions Ms. Hanna made at an event organized by the so-called Antiquities Coalition soon, but this statement in particular gets to the heart of what's wrong with Egypt's cultural establishment and why US Collectors should not be made to pay the price for a mess entirely of Egypt's own making.
The Military Government that has run Egypt for decades, like its much more bloodthirsty cousins in Syria and the former Baathist state of Iraq, has declared ownership of all antiquities as part of nationalist campaign to associate the regime with the glories of the ancient past. This may sit well with collector-hating foreign and domestic archaeologists, but it also means that common people associate antiquities with their government oppressors. The results have been sadly predictable in all three countries, what with wanton destruction of archaeological artifacts during times of strife.
And yet, rather than facing this basic truth, the media and government decision-makers uncritically accept the received wisdom from archaeologists with an axe to grind against collectors and self-interested foreign cultural bureaucrats that the real culprits are foreign collectors and shadowy antiquities dealers. No, the real problem is the state ownership model they support, particularly when this approach awards absolute control to violent and venal governments at war with their own people.