Britons Refuse to Return Rosetta Stone, Efforts by Hawas to Put it for Display at New Egyptian Museum

By: Ali Abu Deshish, Yassmine ElSayed

CAIRO, Feb. 1 (SEE) – The British Museum announced that it will participate in an ambitious €3.1m pan-European masterplan aimed at revamping and transforming the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square in Cairo, while refusing to return the 2,000-year-old Rosetta Stone, one of the British Museum’s most important exhibits, to Egypt.

According to ‘Art newspaper’, the 2,000-year-old Rosetta Stone, one of the British Museum’s most important exhibits, will not return to Egypt as part of the initiative, insist officials in Cairo and London.

The renovation project, entitled Transforming the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, is backed by a consortium comprising the Museo Egizio (Turin), the Louvre (Paris), the Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung (Berlin) and the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (Leiden).

The scheme is funded entirely by the European Union (EU).

The British Museum contribution in Cairo will focus on curatorial advice for the late period and Ptolemaic galleries, along with supporting interpretation and audience engagement across the new displays, says a project statement, adding: “British Museum conservation experts will assess the preservation of organic artefacts currently displayed in the lower galleries and provide training to conserve important painted tomb fragments.”

A British Museum spokeswoman says that there are no current requests or plans to lend the Rosetta Stone, the four-foot slab dating from around 196BC inscribed with three different scripts (hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek) which was discovered by Napoleon’s army in 1799. The project at the Egyptian Museum, which houses the world’s most comprehensive holdings of Egyptian antiquities, will result in new displays drawn from their own collection, she adds.

Late last year, Tarek Tawfik, the director of the new Grand Egyptian Museum due to open next year near the Pyramids of Giza, told the Evening Standard Newspaper: “It would be great to have the Rosetta Stone back in Egypt but this is something that will still need a lot of discussion and co-operation.”.

Tawfik later told the newspaper: “No official request has been made, or is being made, to seek the return of the Rosetta Stone. The repatriation of objects is not a priority for the Grand Egyptian Museum because of the sheer number of artefacts—more than 100,000—we will have on display when it opens in 2020.”

Meanwhile, Iconic Archeologist Dr. Zahi Hawas said that he will lead a group of Egyptian intellectuals to regain the stone from the British museum, Nefertiti Bust from Berlin mesum as well as the Zodiac of Dendera from the Louvre Museum, to Egypt to get displayed at the new Egyptian museum upon its inauguration.
He added during a recent seminar at the Egyptian museum in Brazilian Curitiba city, that all those Egyptian artifacts were stolen and illegitimately transferred outside Egypt to, eventually, displayed at those foreign museums.
Hawas vowed to did all efforts to restore the Egyptian artifacts from the foreign museums, as he did already in returning back around 6,000 pieces from around the world.

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