Letter: Belated recognition for Great Pyramid relics

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am gratified to learn from an article ('Sacred Egyptian relics said to lie under the Needle', 6 December) and subsequent correspondence - of which I have only recently been made aware - that artefacts found by my great-grandfather, John Dixon, in the Great Pyramid are of great significance and interest.

On the death of my father in 1970, my brother, sister and I inherited several items from John Dixon, nearly all of which related to the part he played in the transport of 'Cleopatra's Needle' from Alexandria to London in 1877-78. Also included with these items was the 'cigar box' containing relics from the Great Pyramid. Having no knowledge of the importance of these items, it seemed that the proper action would be to present them to authorities on Egyptology who could assess their worth.

Therefore, in September 1972, I presented them to the British Museum and received written acknowledgment and thanks. No further comment was made, so I assumed that, after study and cataloguing, they were found to be of no remarkable significance.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, on learning 'they are the only artefacts known to have come from the Great Pyramid' (Adrian G. Gilbert, letter, 29 December). It is distressing to discover that an important find made by my great-grandfather in 1872 appears to have been treated with some contempt by the very institution which many lay people, like myself, regard as the ultimate authority on Egyptian antiquities. Could the reason be that John Dixon was a distinguished civil engineer rather than a distinguished archaeologist? I hope not.

In any event, I hope that when examination of these rediscovered artefacts is completed that they may be placed on public display and perhaps even loaned to the Egyptian authorities for display in the Queen's Chamber of the Great Pyramid next to the shaft in which they were discovered.

Yours faithfully,

M. E. PORTEOUS

Hounslow, Middlesex

5 January

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