What is a problem with antiquities in modern Egypt?

There are multiple, interrelated problems with antiquities in modern Egypt. Key issues include security, stewardship, access, research, illegal trafficking, and repatriation.

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The complex situation of antiquities in modern Egypt includes numerous, closely interrelated problems. Many Egyptian antiquities are no longer in Egypt, but are in museums and private collections around the world. For those currently in Egyptian collections, the responsibility for stewardship is paramount, but political insecurity is often an obstacle. Climate change has negative effects on large objects and sites. Care and conservation must also be balanced with public access. Ongoing research includes continued efforts to locate artifacts that have left the country, carry out archaeologically based investigation at sites in Egypt, and examine objects in collections. Closely related are ongoing efforts to strengthen international cooperation in documenting artifacts, including digitizing images and data and making those results available online. Increasing the funding for all this work is a constant concern.

Many of the Egyptian antiquities in museums around the world were removed from their original locations and taken out of the country in very different political contexts. Antiquities that were looted from sites or removed by amateurs may have no provenience or speculative, unverifiable attributions. Large collections of antiquities that were archaeologically excavated often were routinely sent to the colonial power that funded the research. For many years, there were limited legal impediments to international relocation or sales. In addition, illegal trafficking has continued up to the present. While efforts at repatriation have had some success, the process may encounter opp0sition or hover in legal limbo.

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