Historians worry about Egyptian antiquities

February 2, 2011 6:44:29 PM PST
The fighting has intensified in Tahrir Square. It has become a battle field. That is where the Egyptian Museum is located, filled with antiquities and the history of Egypt. There are concerns among historians about the fate of the museum and its huge collection.

"In a situation like this where anything could happen you are always worried," Professor Carol Redmount said.

Redmount is director of Near East Studies at UC Berkeley.

"On the one hand in a situation like this you are always concerned, these things are irreplaceable, they're national treasure, international treasures, they tell is about our human history," Redmount said. "But the Egyptian people will do whatever they can to protect it."

Redmount has reason to be concerned. Earlier this week vandals broke into a museum and smashed statues and glass. It is likely the next wave will steal items.

"You can try to sell it on the antiquities market, now everyone is going to be looking for these things on the antiquities market," Redmount said.

That has already happened at a site she is excavating three hours south of Cairo. It is an old city that dates back to 10 BC.

"They've been looting the site with shovels, which is better than bulldozers, at the same time we don't know how much damage has been done," Redmount said.

An exhibit of part of the Hearst Egyptian Collection continues to show in the Bay Area. Redmount says she had planned to go to Egypt in April. Now like the rest of the world she is watching and waiting.