Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s “Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities,” friend of Walters’ curator Regine Schulz (left), and charismatic star of anything pyramids-related on TV, was all over CNN prime time two weeks ago.
His emotional plea was simple and complelling: Zahi wants to borrow the famous Rosetta Stone from the British Museum for an exhibition in Egypt. What a novel idea!
Now, some might reasonably wonder if the Rosetta Stone, once back in to Egypt, will ever make its way back to England again. Not to worry, says Zahi, we are not the “Pirates of the Caribbean”; you English (and, by implication, all western powers) are the real pirates.
This is a line of reasoning that Ben Weideman of CNN finds quite compelling.
And Zahi goes on to point out the obvious: namely, that King Tut’s treasures have been sent all over the world by the Egyptians.
Well, have a look at the label, and read it through the eyes of Zahi Hawass.
The Rosetta Stone was discovered in the town the Egyptians call Rashid, not Rosetta, by the invading French, but very soon taken from them by the conquering British. In fact, the British “captured” it and “presented” it to King George the III.
Interesting enough, but read on: it seems that the usefulness of the Rosetta (aka Rashid) Stone for deciphering hieroglyphs was realized nearly 200 years ago! It certainly is not much to look at and, until recently, it was exhibited without a glass cover on its case, so that anyone could touch it.
So Zahi Hawass seems to have a point, and at this stage, no decision on the possible loan to Egypt has been made by the Trustees of the British Museum.
And so that pretty plain chunk of black stone in the main Egyptian gallery at the British Museum – the one with all those little squiggles on it – is now more popular than ever!