Zahi Hawass, the always quotable head of Egyptian Antiquities, offered a new zinger this week in his efforts to get the British Museum to return the Rosetta Stone, the basalt slab that was crucial to the modern deciphering of heiroglyphics.
The British Museum is considering a request to at least loan the famous artifact to Egypt, though there are concerns about its security and guaranteed return.
"We are not pirates of the Caribbean. We are a civilized country. If I sign something, I will do it," Hawass told the BBC "We have the right for our monuments to be shown." Full story here.
Hawass' emphasis on showmanship over scholarship infuriates a lot of people, both Egyptians and expats alike, but nobody can deny he's devoted to forcing the return of Egypt's ancient artifacts from European countries that "acquired" them through pretty dubious circumstances: colonial rule, archaeologists, tomb raiders, etc.
The Rosetta Stone, for example, was discovered in Egypt by French soldiers in 1799 and given to the British under a treaty two years later. The stone dates back to 196 BC.
The BBC says an Egyptian delegation went to the Louvre Museum in Paris last month to collect five ancient fresco fragments that were stolen from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings in the 1980s. Hawass also has his eye on getting back a 3,500-year-old bust of Queen Nefertiti, a statue of the architect of the Great Pyramid at Giza, a painted Zodiac from the Dendera temple and a statue of Ramses II.
The United States, Germany, France, Italy, Britain and other Western nations all have stolen Egyptian artifacts on display at museums.
According to a 1970 United Nations agreement, artifacts are the property of their country of origin and pieces smuggled out must be returned, the BBC report said.