Letter: Egyptian treasures the British Museum forgot

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The Independent Online
Sir: W. V. Davies, Keeper of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, rightly states (letter, 15 December) that there is 'no mystery about the present location' of the relics from the Great Pyramid of Egypt. However, he neglects to mention that there was still a considerable mystery concerning the whereabouts of these relics at the time David Keys's informative article on the subject was published ('Sacred Egyptian relics said to lie under the Needle', 6 December).

It was only around (or indeed possibly shortly after) the appearance of that article that the British Museum discovered that it did in fact have two of the missing relics in its store.

Registered as EA 67818 and 67819 respectively, they had been lodged with the Department of Egyptian Antiquities in 1972 (exactly a century after their discovery), and ever since had remained unexamined and forgotten inside the original box in which they had been packed.

It is only because of the meticulous investigative work of Robert Bauval, which was reported in the Independent article, that these relics have now been located. The Department of Egyptian Antiquities should have the good grace to admit this.

Since the museum is a publicly funded institution, the department might also care to explain why, for more than 20 years, it stored the only relics ever to have been found inside the Great Pyramid of Egypt. These relics possess an archaeological value beyond price yet, under the museum's stewardship, they have been neither studied by scholars nor exhibited to the public.

Yours sincerely,

G. B. HANCOCK

Okehampton, Devon

19 December

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