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Saturday, September 12, 2015
News: Is The Sekhemka Statue Lost for Good?
all efforts exerted by Egypt and Britain, the sale procedures for the
4500-year-old statue are to begin soon after an export ban expired on Friday. Written
by / Nevine El-Aref.
British export ban on the Sekhemka statue expired on Friday, meaning that the
4,500-year-old sculpture could leave the UK for good, into the hands of an
anonymous private buyer. A British archaeologist, who asked to remain
anonymous, told Ahram Online that the sale procedures are set to start Saturday
to hand over the statue to its anonymous buyer. The Save Sekhemka Action Group
has started legal procedures to keep the statue of a pharaonic civil servant in
public display at a British museum.
a statement published on its website, the group describes the sale of the
statue to an anonymous buyer and moving it to an unknown place as "a
deprivation of knowledge of the ancient Egyptian civilisation."
Marco, president of the Court of Arbitration in Egypt and an international
lawyer, said that a decree by the Sultan of Egypt in 800AD prohibits the export
of any artefacts without written permission and there is no mention of this statue
in the records of the Egyptian Museum or any other documents.
default it was illegally taken out of the country," he said, pointing out
that the group is expecting a judgement for restitution of the statue to Egypt,
or to keep the statue in the UK until further notice.
group also urges the British authorities to negotiate with the buyer to put the
statue on loan to a British museum or give it as a gift to a British museum
which can look after it until it may find a secure home in an Egyptian museum. The
export bar expired on Friday but according to a statement by the UK Department
for Culture, Media and Sport the ban could be extended if a UK buyer makes a
British Egyptologist who also requested anonymity told Ahram Online that
British Egyptologists believe that there is no much need to buy the statue and
pay a large amount of money because “it seems unlikely that any public body
will want to be seen to reward Northampton Borough Council by being involved in
the purchase of the statue.” He also said that British museums have a large
number of antiquities from the same era as the Sekhemka statue, which make its
purchase not worthwhile.
The other artifacts offered by the second Marquess to the Northampton Museum
the other hand, Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty, who describes
the sale of Sekhemka as "a historically indecent crime," called on
Egyptian businessmen and wealthy antiquities lovers to help in collecting the
required money to re-purchase the statue and return it to its homeland. He also
announced that the ministry has stopped all archeological cooperation and
relations with Northampton Museum, which sold the statue last year to make up
for its lack of funds.
statue was sold by Northampton Borough Council, which runs Northampton Museum,
and Lord Northampton for £15.8 million at auction last year, breaching the
Museums Association’s Code of Ethics, which led it to being barred from the
association and losing its accreditation with Arts Council England. The
council’s subsequent bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £240,000 was turned
down on the grounds that the fund was only open to museums with accreditation.
Council told the BBC that any action was a matter for the current owner and the
two governments. The sale of Sekhemka compels Egyptian Egyptologists to ask:
will the other ancient Egyptian artefacts at the Northampton Museum face the
same fate as Sekhemka?