The French Culture Ministry has agreed to return the fragments taken from the wall of a tomb located in the Tombs of the Nobles section of the Theban Necropolis on the west bank of the Nile River, across from the city of Luxor. The tomb (TT 15) belonged to Tetaki, an Eighteenth Dynasty official, and depicted his journey to the afterlife. The fragments were removed in 1980 and purchased in 2000 and 2003 by the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
Zahi Hawass, who heads Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, suspended all relations between Egypt and the Louvre on October 8, 2009, until the artifacts are returned to Egypt. Frederic Mitterrand, the French Minister of Culture, agreed the stelae should be returned, but had his own official procedures to follow, which included presenting the case before the National Scientific Commission for the Museum Collections of France who would ultimately decide on the case.
According to an official who was not authorized to be publicly identified, the commission decided in Egypt’s favor and the artifacts will be returned to Egypt. No official response has been made by the Supreme Council of Antiquities as of this moment, but there is no reason to suspect that relations with the Louvre will not be restored, unless Dr. Hawass decides to hold out for the return of the Zodiac of Dendera, which is another of the Louvre’s holding Hawass has demanded be returned to Egypt.
The timing of the dustup between Egypt and the Louvre led some to suspect the suspension may have been fallout associated with the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) decision to appoint Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova as it’s new director, rejecting Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosni.
“Halting cooperation with the Louvre Museum has nothing to do with the results of the UNESCO election in which Culture Minister Faruq Hosni was a candidate,” Zahi Hawass states, insisting that the decision goes back eight months (source: AFP, Egypt denies Louvre split linked to UNESCO loss). Hawass had previously said the decision had been made two months ago (source: AFP, Egypt breaks ties with France’s Louvre Museum).
Related Story: Zahi Hawass to the Louvre: Rester Dehors!
Copyright by Keith Payne, 2009. All rights reserved.
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