Egyptian Museum Is Secure; Mubarak Promotes Hawass

02/02/2011 12:31 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In the aftermath of this weekend's security crisis at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Zahi Hawass, Egypt's newly-appointed Minister of Antiquities, told the New York Times that his country's antiquities were safe.

According to the Washington Post, damage from the lootings was less severe than previously thought:

Hawass earlier said heads were ripped off two mummies. On Tuesday, though, he said the museum had mistaken two skulls, separated from their skeletons, for mummy heads and that the items were intact.

Hawass, who had been secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, was promoted by President Hosni Mubarak on Monday to the cabinet position, which was created specially for the archaeologist. The promotion has drawn the attention of some National Democratic Party (NDP) critics, particularly following the revelation that some looters in other parts of Cairo carried police identification cards.

Hawass has been open in his support for the NDP, telling the New York Times that protesters

"Should give us the opportunity to change things, and if nothing happens they can march again," he said. "But you can't bring in a new president now, in this time. We need Mubarak to stay and make the transition."

With the military now protecting numerous museums and archaeological sites, Mubarak's administration has, at least temporarily, responded to some of its critics.

There has been no further word on lootings at the Memphis Museum, which former Egyptian Museum director Wafaa el-Saddik told German publication Zeit Online had been "robbed on Saturday morning completely" (Google Translation via Hyperallergic). The Guardian reports that citizens are protecting the Bibliotheca Alexandria, and AP reported Monday on a separate incident:

"Officials recovered nearly 300 archaeological items that were plundered by armed Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula"