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Cairo's Egyptian Museum artefacts looted during recent unrest

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The Egyptian Museum in Cairo revealed on Sunday that eight important artifacts were stolen from its exhibits during the weeks of unrest that led to the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak. The museum is home to more than 100,000 Egyptian treasures.


AFP - The Egyptian Museum, which revealed Sunday that thieves had taken eight major artefacts during two weeks of protest against ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, is home to a priceless collection.

Founded in 1858 by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, the museum contains more than 100,000 Egyptian artefacts, including the world renowned treasures of King Tutankhamun's tomb.

Mariette asked French architect Marcel Dourgnon to design the rose coloured neo-classical building that was finally inaugurated in 1902, at a walking distance from Tahrir Square -- the epicentre of the protests.

Tutankhamun's treasures were discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings, an arid mountainous area on the west bank of the Nile near Luxor.

The best known artefact is the gold funerary mask, which stares out from a case on the first floor of the museum.

The head is covered by a Nemes headcloth with the cobra and vulture emblems on the forehead, eyes and eyelids inlaid with lapis lazuli.

Tutankhamun ascended the throne as a boy in 1354 BC and ruled for nine years until he died at around 18. His mummy is still at the grave site in Luxor.

The bulk of the museum's collection is to move in few years to a new ultra-modern site expected to open near the pyramids in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo.

Dozens of Egyptians formed a human chain around the museum last month to fend off looters, after intruders took advantage of a fire raging in the neighbouring headquarters of the ruling party to clamber inside.


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