The Egyptian Gazette reports on Egyptian citizens dubbed “deluded diggers.” Motivated by poverty, these citizens carry out illegal excavations at sites known to contain artifacts as well as elsewhere around Cairo, including residential areas. In addition to the destruction of cultural heritage, these digs pose huge risks to the inhabitants. Collapsing houses have resulted in numerous deaths of residents who attempt to excavate under their own homes. It is also believed that an “antiquities mafia” is behind these digs; members of the mafia convince homeowners that there is treasure buried beneath their properties and persuade them to carry out amateur archaeology.
It is interesting to note that some of these deluded diggers believe that the wealthy inhabitants in their residential areas must be working in the illicit antiquities trade, and that if they too wish to get rich they should find and dig up their own antiquities. That the looting and smuggling of artifacts is seen as a lucrative venture for individuals hoping to escape their lives of poverty raises many concerns for the safety both of these people and of the security of cultural patrimony.
Originally posted by Sally Johnson on CulturalSecurity.net.
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