Where does "King Tut" belong?
Tactless it may be, but I have been itching to say this for several days. The sad looting of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo gives yet another reason why the dispersal of major treasures around the world may be a good thing, not an imperialist crime.
I don't mean that everything should end up in the British Museum (or the Met, or the Louvre). In the medium to long term, we can't be certain which parts of the world are going to be safest -- whether that is a question or crime, riot, flood or fire. Over the next millennium London may be no less vulnerable than Kabul But we do know that 'all eggs in one basket' is bound to be a bad idea.
Only a year or so ago, Zahi Hawass was on the Today programme complaining that all the masterpieces of ancient Egyptian art were not in Egypt.
I hope he is eating his words.
Hawass certainly has not come well out of the Egyptian turmoils. First of all, he wrongy reassured the world that there had been some damage in the museum, but nothing had been taken. Then a few days later, he actually took a position in Mubarak's dying government...rushing onto a sinking ship as it were (and an uncomfortable indication, I suspect, of where his loyalties lay).
I am sure we all wish the Egyptians the very best for their revolution (and, in case you are wondering, the son went back there today to start his courses again). And they will have a lot more urgent things on ther minds (I hope) than who is gonig to take charge of antiquities. But when they get round to that bit of the agenda, I hope they will turn to someone who is less of a showman, less self-promoting and just a bit more sensible in their ideas of heritage management.
Someone who might give up all those ideas about a theme park of replica tombs. Someone who might stop the Mayor of Luxor digging up yet more stuff to e next year's conservation problem. Someone who will invest in the Greek, Roman, Christian and Islam heritage of Egypt -- as well as the pharaohs.