Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Papyrus of Ani

Ani lived during Egypt's 19th Dynasty dying probably around 1275 BC. Though Ani's mummy appears to be lost to history his book of the dead is one of the finest and best-preserved to have come down to modern times.

Ani's book of the dead would have been a guide for Ani in the underworld and may have been placed inside his coffin. It would have been very expensive for Ani to have had made and may have taken up to a year to make.

The papyrus was purchased in 1888 by E.A. Wallis Budge who did not show it to the antiquities service which was the law at the time. The authorities upon hearing of his intentions to smuggle it out of Egypt detained Mr. Budge and took the papyrus away.

Unfortunately, Mr. Budge was released from police custody and somehow got the papyrus back. Escaping with the papyrus before the authorities could arrest him again.

The papyrus was brought to England and given by Mr. Budge to his masters, the trustees of the British Museum. In a show produced a couple of years ago the Supreme Council of Antiquities secretary general Zahi Hawass referred to Mr. Budge as a thief.

Dr. Zahi Hawass has made a career out of getting Egypt's stolen treasures back with mixed success but, Why should he even have to ask for the papyrus back?

Does it not damage the reputation of the British Museum collections as a whole, surely the museum which is run by intelligent people must be able to see Mr. Budge's consciousness of guilt and call into question the museums practices and rights of ownership.

Revenge is a dish best served cold and the SCA's director general is making allot of cold meals with threats to ruin peoples lives. Perhaps the British Museum should do the right thing with objects like Ani's papyrus who's provenance is that of outright theft and who's contributor knew this better than anyone else.

No comments: