Egyptian Antiquities Are Safe, Museum Scientist Says

A prosthetic toe in the Cairo Museum. (Image credit: Jacky Finch)

Rumors that the Egyptian Museum in Cairo caught fire yesterday (Feb. 2) were just that, according to Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, on his blog today.

"Again, I want to tell everyone that all the fights and fires in Tahrir Square that many people saw on television yesterday did not affect the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, at al," Hawass wrote.

Al Jazeera reports suggested the monuments of Saqqara -- a large burial ground of Ancient Egypt referred to as the "City of the Dead" -- had been damaged and that items were stolen, Hawass wrote. "This is not true."

In fact, while the break-in at the Egyptian Museum on Friday (Jan. 28) resulted in 70 broken objects (all of which will be restored), Hawass said all of the Egyptian monuments are safe. 

In a blog post on Feb. 2, he wrote: "I would like the people of the world to know that today all of the Egyptian monuments are safe. All the archaeological sites in Aswan, such as the Temple of Philae, the Unfinished Obelisk, the Island of Kalabsha, the Tombs of the Nomarchs, and Elephantine Island are completely safe. The temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo are also safe. All of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Tombs of the Nobles, and the temples of Luxor and Karnak are safe. The temples of Dendera, Abydos, the sites in Akhmim, and all sites in Middle Egypt, such as Tuna el-Gebel, Amarna, and Beni Hasan, are safe. All sites in Alexandria are safe. All the mosques, synagogues, and monasteries are safe; nothing has happened to any of them."

And amidst reports of violence on the Cairo streets, Hawass points out the Egyptian people are keeping watch over these ancient treasures.

"I want people to know that after 9 days of protests, the monuments are safe. Why? Because the Egyptian people are protecting them," he wrote.

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Jeanna Bryner
Live Science Editor-in-Chief

Jeanna served as editor-in-chief of Live Science. Previously, she was an assistant editor at Scholastic's Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a graduate science journalism degree from New York University. She has worked as a biologist in Florida, where she monitored wetlands and did field surveys for endangered species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.