The former Director of the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, Wafaa el-Saddik, has stated that some of the looters are the museum's/museums' own guards, because:
They are paid very poorly. I wrote the fingers crooked and asking for more money for these people. All for free. A security guard earns about 250 Egyptian pounds, or 35 € a month. We have about 160 security guards plus several dozen police officers who are basically conscripts in police uniforms. These policemen earn even less.That is unsurprising; but it is important to acknowledge it as well, because now we have reliable accounts of both regime-backed counter-revolutionary looting, and spontaneous, poverty-stricken community looting.
Archaeologists can stop in-fighting over who's to blame and start putting all of their energy into minimising the harm done to Egyptian cultural heritage.
Anyone with any contacts in their country's police, customs, border controls, etc., should ask them to alert the agency to the need to watch out for looted Egyptian antiquities.
[Original post continued...]
I am glad that none of the people I have heard blithely say that they "wished they were there", when "there" is somewhere people are getting beaten and killed for demanding democracy and non-violence (or say anything else equally annoying but less offensive to struggling and suffering Egyptians), have been friends.
As for finding trustworthy sources of information, basically, what she said:
- specifically on the looting, lots of friends and colleagues have highly recommended Egyptologist Margaret Maitland's blog, Eloquent Peasant;
- more generally, al-Jazeera has news and twitter; CNN's Ben Wedeman tweets too.
Paul Barford recommended Egyptology News and News from the Valley of the Kings (amongst others); and Derek Fincham recommended bikyamasr, for Egypt generally and its looting specifically.
Louis B. Lewarne lives and tweets in Cairo. Occupied London has Reports from the Egyptian Uprising. The Guardian has a good live blog of incoming information (when its staff are awake); but Reuters has a 24hr live feed.
[Egyptological Looting Database 2011 link inserted on the 8th of February 2011.]