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On Friday night, a group of 35 criminals attacked the storage magazines at Tell el-Fara'in (Buto) an ancient and important former capital of Lower Egypt, the Delta. Here the remains of the ancient city walls, a temple of Ramesses II, many great statues of that king and others of gods, such as Sekhmet and Horus, have been found. Both foreign (notably, German and British teams) and Egyptian missions have worked there, excavating the stores and settlement of a New Kingdom town as well as discovering Predynastic remains, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in the Delta. The magazines that were looted contained all of the artifacts of that area, such as finds from el-Monufia, el-Gharbia, Kafr el-Sheikh and El-Beheira.
As they do almost every night at many sites across the country, the looters arrived carrying automatic weapons, overpowered the guards and broke in. I have built 40 storage magazines all over Egypt, that are well guarded with computerized systems, and which are equipped with photographic departments and conservation rooms as well. Unfortunately, however, these thieves got in, opened five boxes of objects, throwing some of them to the ground and breaking three of the doors inside the store. They took the smaller handguns of the guards, but thankfully neighboring people came to get them and successfully captured four, who are now being detained. Today I have asked for a team from the Ministry of Antiquities to inspect the site and report back to me on what has been taken.
Almost every day at the moment, there are attacks on archaeological heritage sites all over Egypt.
Other areas that Hawass says have been harmed are:
- At the el-Zoulien archaeological site, near San el-Hagar (Tanis), villagers have farmed the land and built houses.
- At Abu el-Hummus and Borg el-Arab walls and buildings have also been built.
- A group attacked the Kléber Tower in Gamalia last night
- Unspecifed sites in Upper Egypt have been harmed