“Egypt, Demanding Artifacts’ Return, Cuts Ties With the Louvre,” written by the Associated Press and published in the New York Times, discusses damaged relationships between Egyptian authorities and the world-famous Louvre museum (New York Times, 2009). Written recently in American and published on October 7th, 2009, this topic is recent and relevant to continuing events. As mentioned, this article was published in the New York Times, which is a highly esteemed news publication. Overall this article provides an account of the circumstances resulting in the damaged relationship while illustrating the various perspectives of the parties involved.
The severed ties
The severed ties happened formally this month as the antiquities department of Egypt contacted the Louvre Museum to state that they could no longer continue business under the current circumstances. This has been the boldest and aggressive action of the Egyptian antiquities department to reclaim the items, which they claim are stolen. Meanwhile, the Louvre Museum officials claim that they have thoroughly considered returning the artifacts to the nation of Egypt, however, such an action would require the formal consideration and procedures of a specially formed committee. While the Louvre Museum is currently the largest collector of Egyptian artifacts, the nation disputes its acquisition methods in many cases, despite the age and time frame of this “ownership.” Acknowledging this, the Culture Ministry of France has also recognized the ownership transfer as being a possibility for the future, but a special committee and process would be required for their handling of the situation as well (New York Times, 2009). The Supreme Council of Antiquities’ decision ultimately has resulted in the suspension of archaeological efforts which are affiliated with the Louvre Museum throughout all of Egypt. Such action has been taken, in some cases to the extreme, as a major effort to acquire artifacts from a necropolis has been halted while events such as curator lectures have even been canceled.
The head of the antiquities department, Zahi Hawass, revealed that the primary concern of the department is the return of four specific relief artifacts which were considered stolen in the 1980s by associates of the Louvre museum. The specifics of the theft are further revealed as evidence against the affiliates point to specific people and the location of the theft, the tomb of Tataki. These reliefs were paintings of the afterlife journey and were removed from the stone by separating the rock with chisels. Later these removed items would somehow be transferred to the Louvre museum, though accusations of direct theft by the museum have not been made. Meanwhile, the Culture Ministry and Louvre officials have revealed that the origins of the artifacts were not disputed until November of 2008 when archaeologists rediscovered the burial site to find the unconventional removal methods. Considering this, the Louvre officials plan to deeply investigate the issues while resolving some discrepancies, such as the differences of observed missing items from the tomb (Egypt claims four counts of theft while the Louvre officials have seen five counts.)
The main points of the article are that the Egyptian antiquities department has severed ties with the Louvre Museum, that four of the artifacts within the museum have been claimed to be stolen, and that the situation is going to be resolved as both parties are seeking more information. These points are crucial to understanding the critical relationship between the museum and Egypt, even more so as the article reveals the number of expeditions and events which are hosted by affiliate relationships. With cooperation, the case can be solved while the Egyptian antiquities department can realize that it was an honest mistake of the museum. The actions being taken to investigate show that the museum officials are indeed concerned, as it is the entire cultural ministry within the nation of France. Perhaps the ties would be stronger if the museum officials would simply take Egypt’s word for the misunderstanding, however, the officials and ministry are choosing to proceed formally in the investigation and probably relinquishing the artifacts. The time delay of this process has ultimately caused the severed relationship, while Egypt has been fully aware of the museum and nation’s concern for the possible theft and has simply grown tired of the length of time involved.
I have learned about the Louvre Museum’s relationship with Egypt from this article, as well as the number of formal processes involved in such an organization’s inventory. Furthermore, I have learned about the operational connections between the museum and the nation; before I had not known of the ongoing collaborative investigations or projects. I have not learned why it took the museum so long to realize there may be an actual threat, nor the assumed reasoning behind the Egyptians’ claims to theft before this realization in 2008.
In conclusion, this article reveals much about the Egyptian relationship with the world-famous museum. This article was written by a talented writer for the esteemed publication in which it has been published (though Associated Press articles are published in many esteemed publications.) There are no obvious weaknesses in the article, while it contains many strengths within an article of its size including information, quotes, and clarity. Overall, this article allows readers to understand the function of the museum and Egypt’s antiquities department while gaining further insight into their collaborative efforts.
New York Times. Egypt, Demanding Artifacts’ Return, Cuts Ties With the Louvre. 2009.