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Egypt Demands Rosetta Stone and Other Artifacts Returned

19th July 2005

The Jerusalem Post and a number of other news sources (see the AP stories here and here) report that Egypt is demanding that the Fitzwilliam Museum in Britain return the Rosetta Stone, the three-foot monument containing an engraving in honour of Pharoah. The engraved text is triligual — hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek — which helped scholars decipher hieroglyphics. The basalt monument bears an inscription dated to the 9th year (196 BCE) of Ptolemy V Epiphanes (210-180 BCE). In addition, Egypt also demanded the Catholic University of Brussels to return a relief taken from the an excavation in the 1960s. If they do not comply, then Egypt may take action such as cutting off any archaeological work they may be involved in.

This demand is the latest in a series of attempts by Egypt to recover ancient treasures. Other artifacts Egypt is wanting to see returned include the bust of Nefertiti from Berlin’s Egyptian Museum; the Zodiac from the French Louvre; the bust of Hemiunu from the Hildesheim Museum; and the bust of Ankhkhaf from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

I would think that such treasures should be returned to their native lands, with the condition that there are proper facilities and means to preserve them (which is not an issue for Egypt).

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