Egito quer reaver a Pedra de Rosetta

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Egito afirma que vai pedir a Museu Britânico Pedra de Rosetta de volta: Reuters 14/12/2009

The Rosetta Stone - British Museum EA24 - From Fort St Julien, el-Rashid (Rosetta), Egypt - Ptolemaic Period, 196 BC

O chefe do Conselho Supremo de Antiguidades do Egito disse que pretende pedir ao Museu Britânico que entregue a Pedra de Rosetta ao seu país.

A antiga pedra foi a chave para decifrar hieróglifos das tumbas dos faraós egípcios e é uma das seis relíquias que o chefe arqueólogo do Egito, Zahi Hawass, quer recuperar de museus do mundo todo.

“Ainda não escrevi para o Museu Britânico, mas o farei. Direi a eles que precisamos que a Pedra de Rosetta volte ao Egito para sempre”, disse Hawass à Reuters.

“O Museu Britânico tem centenas de milhares de artefatos, tanto em seu porão quanto em exposição. Eu preciso de apenas uma peça, a Pedra de Rosetta. É um ícone da nossa identidade egípcia e ela deve ficar no Egito”.

A Pedra de Rosetta foi desenterrada pelo exército de Napoleão em 1799 e data de 196 a.C. Tornou-se propriedade britânica depois da derrota de Napoleão, sob o Tratado de Alexandria de 1801.

Hawass, que já foi comparado ao personagem Indiana Jones por conta de seu estilo exagerado, inclui na lista de relíquias que deseja ver de volta ao Egito o busto de Nefertiti no Neues Museum de Berlim, uma estátua do arquiteto Hemiunu do Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum em Hildesheim, na Alemanha, o zodíaco retirado do Templo de Dendera, exposto no Louvre, em Paris, o busto de Ankhaf do Museu de Belas Artes de Boston, nos EUA, e uma estátua de Ramsés II do Museo Egizio em Turim, na Itália.

A Pedra de Rosetta, que tem inscrições em hieróglifo, demótico e grego, está no Museu Britânico desde 1802 e é a peça central da coleção de arte egípcia da instituição, atraindo milhões de visitantes por ano.

O Museu Britânico disse em comunicado que sua coleção deve permanecer intacta, mas que consideraria um empréstimo para o Egito.


Stolen treasures – By Henry Huttinger: Cairo Magazine – July 28, 2005

Zahi Hawass wants the Rosetta Stone back—among other things

Egypt is once again calling for the return of several celebrated antiquities currently on display in museums across Europe and America, including the Rosetta stone, the famous granite slab that was crucial in deciphering hieroglyphics.

The campaign to recuperate priceless artifacts taken by colonial powers is not new. But in recent weeks Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the public face of archaeology in Egypt, has grown more strident in his demands in a campaign that coincides with a world tour of Egyptology’s favorite son, King Tutankhamun. Hawass has even threatened to shut down British and Belgian archaeological digs in Egypt if the artifacts are not returned.

“The Rosetta stone is one of the most important pieces in the British Museum, but it is more important for Egypt,” Hawass said. “It is an essential piece of our Egyptian national and historical identity and was disgracefully smuggled out of the country.”

The Rosetta stone—a dark slab on which a Ptolemaic decree is written in Greek, hieroglyphics and Demotic script—was discovered in 1799 by the French military. When the French surrendered to British forces in 1801, they tried to smuggle the 1,609-pound stone out of the country. It was intercepted by British troops and promptly delivered to the British Museum, where it has remained on display ever since.

Past efforts to retrieve Egyptian antiquities on display abroad have proven largely ineffective. Speaking at the 250th anniversary of the British Museum in London in 2003, Hawass demanded the return of the Rosetta stone. His call fell on unsympathetic ears, and he expressed his indignation to reporters following the event.

“If the British want to be remembered, if they want to restore their reputation, they should volunteer to return the Rosetta Stone because it is the icon of our Egyptian identity,” he said at the time.

Hawass has appealed to UNESCO to mediate the dispute and has encouraged 21 other countries also seeking the return of plundered artifacts to do the same.

“Our previous attempts at returning the Rosetta stone were ineffectual, but we hope that by organizing an international lobby, we can pressure with greater force the countries and museums in possession of such artifacts,” Hawass said.

In London, British Museum Communications Manager Hanna Bolton told Cairo, “The British Museum has not received an official request for the return of the Rosetta Stone.” Bolton refused to elaborate further, saying she was “confused” by Hawass’ statement.

Even with the backing of UNESCO and the collective voices of two dozen states, Egypt’s ability to convince Western museums to return priceless artifacts taken long before the concept of international property rights is uncertain.

There have, however, been some successes. On 19 July, the Australian government handed over several 2,500-year-old funerary statuettes, a bronze axe head and amulets that were confiscated in Melbourne. The artifacts had been smuggled out of Egypt under false papers as reproductions and were subsequently sold.

The Greek government and numerous international action groups have been campaigning for decades for the return of the Elgin marbles from the British Museum. The collection of marble sculptures was removed from the Parthenon in Athens in 1801 and taken to the British Museum, where it has been housed ever since. The museum has been notoriously unresponsive to Greece’s and other countries’ appeals, perhaps because artifacts such as the Rosetta stone and the Elgin marbles are a major draw for the British Museum’s five million annual visitors.

The principal obstacle facing countries like Egypt and Greece is the lack of any international legal framework that would allow countries to file suit against museums in possession of such artifacts.

UNESCO mainly serves as a negotiating forum. It lacks the teeth necessary to force governments to return plundered antiquities. “It is not an international court of justice or arbitration court,” said Mounir Bouchenaki, assistant director general of UNESCO’s Culture Sector.

Hawass, ever the flamboyant face of Egyptian archeology, is undeterred. He told Cairo, “If UNESCO fails, I will do it without them!”


Repatriation: The Rosetta Stone: Egyptology News – Andie: December 11, 2009

This week’s melodrama is the question of whether or not the British Museum should/will loan the Rosetta Stone to Egypt and whether or not Egypt will try to claim it on a permanent basis. There are some interesting opinions being floated. Unlike Nefertiti the question of the repatriation of the Rosetta Stone seems, at least in some cases, to generate serious consideration of the issues, not merely emotional responses. I am sure that all readers are familiar with the Rosetta Stone but if not, you can find a description, here, on the British Museum’s website.

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