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Tut’s Head

This story hints at a larger issue, one which doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. During colonial times, a lot of treasures got spirited out of their countries of origin and ended up in museums like the Louvre and the British Museum. Some have suggested that those treasures need to be sent back to their home countries. But treasures like that belong to the world, not to any one time, government, or people. And it is a sad fact that not every country can adequately protect its treasures. The museum in Baghdad lost most of its priceless, irreplaceable artifacts during the war. They were either destroyed or stolen. Had they been in the Louvre instead, we’d still have them. I got really worried during the unrest in Egypt back in 2013 and 2014. No place in the world is home to more precious artifacts than Egypt. I feared the country had lost its ability to safeguard them.

The head of the statue of King Tut that sold this month at auction at Christie’s isn’t meant for a museum, however. It was purchased by a private collector. Does some rich dude have the right to hide away something that belongs to posterity? And since the head was likely smuggled illegally out of Egypt, should the head be taken away from him and the auction house and returned to Egypt? And the biggest question of them all—what will Tutankhamen think about this? I recall reading that previous attempts to move Tut-related artifacts out of Egypt as part of a museum tour led to a bout of weird and unexplained activity, so might the Pharaoh still be monitoring the whereabouts of his relics? And might he not like the way the statue’s head is being sold and hoarded?

TheCheezman • July 28, 2019

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