Tours on the history of the exploration (and exploitation) of Egypt and how the looting throughout the 18th and 19th centuries created a market for Egyptian antiquities.
Tracy Musacchio

Professor Musacchio graduated from Brown University with a degree in Egyptology. After graduate work in the same field at the University of Pennsylvania, she joined the faculty of the History Department of John Jay College/CUNY. Her focus is the Egyptian language and she has done field work at Abydos and Saqqara, as well as other sites throughout Egypt. She has also held fellowships with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the American Research Center in Egypt.

This tour, centered in the Museum’s impressive Egyptian galleries, discusses the history of the exploration and exploitation of Egypt, and how the looting of Egyptian antiquities by Europeans throughout the 18th and 19th centuries created a market for these priceless artifacts. This market still exists today, as evidenced by the looting of the Egyptian Museum of Cairo in late January of 2011. Increased interest in Egyptian artifacts during this period led to the advent of scientific archaeology. As archaeology developed as a discipline, money for digs poured into Egypt from investors who hoped to take home some of the finds. The tour discusses the system of “partage” that allowed these pieces to leave the country legally throughout much of the late 19th and early 20th century.

What happens to these objects once they are taken out of context? Using examples from the Met’s collection, we will discuss how artifacts large and small (including the Temple of Dendur) arrived in New York. The law is still changing and developing, and as recently as late 2010 the Met agreed to return several objects to Egypt when they discovered they had come from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. The tour will conclude with a discussion of the current political situation in Egypt, the looting that took place earlier this year, and the impact this will have on archaeology in Egypt.