US delegation to help Egypt counter antiquities theft

A US delegation is expected to arrive in Egypt Monday to help Egyptian authorities create a plan to counter organized thefts of Egyptian antiquities.

Members of the delegation represent major American institutions interested in protecting relics.

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass said 1250 artifacts, which had been stolen from museums and ministry stores nationwide during the security vaccuum that started during the 25 January revolution, have not yet been retrieved.

The minister stressed that no unique pieces were lost.

The delegation includes several prominent experts who had submitted a petition urging the US administration to help prevent the potential trading of Egyptian antiquities in the US market. 

Deborah Lehr, chairperson of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University, heads the delegation, which plans to make field visits to sites that were recently robbed.

The members and Egyptian officials are expected to agree on funding and organizing training programs for antiquities authorities in Egypt.

Hawass told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Saturday that new museums and restoration work will start soon, noting that Egypt's interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf will visit Suez on Thursday and inaugurate the first museum to be opened after the revolution.

The minister said the Suez museum will contain exhibits related to pilgrimage, trade and the Suez Canal.

Sharaf will also celebrate the opening of the Crocodiles Museum in Kom Ombo, Aswan.

Two days ago, Hawass agreed with an Interpol delegation to issue a list of stolen artifacts to be presented in brochures and official documents, as well as on the internet.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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