Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Protecting King Tut's gold mask and other treasures

January 28, 2011 |  5:38 pm


The Egyptian army secured Cairo's famed antiquities museum early Saturday, protecting treasures that include the famed gold mask of King Tutankhamun from looters.

The greatest threat to the Egyptian Museum first appeared to come from the fire engulfing the ruling party headquarters next door Friday night as anti-government protests roiled the country.

Then dozens of would-be thieves started entering the grounds surrounding the museum. Suddenly other young men — some armed with nightsticks taken from the police — formed a human chain outside the main gates on Tahrir Square in an attempt to protect the collection inside.

“I'm standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure,” said Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.

Twenty-six year-old Ahmed Ibrahim said it was important to guard the museum because it “has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we'll never find it again.”

Four armored vehicles eventually took up posts outside the massive coral-colored building in downtown Cairo. Soldiers surrounded the building and moved inside to protect mummies, monumental stone statues, ornate royal jewelry and other pharaonic artifacts.

— Associated Press


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Image: Protesters gather outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Credit: Mohamed Omar.