On March 14, Guido Bastianini and Rosario Pintaudi of the Instituto Papirologico G. Vitelli, Florence, Italy circulated the following e-mail (in Italian) through the Papy-List:
"Sottoponiamo ai Colleghi, in allegato, la protesta documentata che è stata presentata, dal responsabile per la Missione Archeologica dell'Istituto Papirologico G. Vitelli, al Ministro per le Antichità Egiziane, dr Mohamed Ibrahim, il giorno 7 marzo 2013 nel suo ufficio al Cairo. Si avvertono i Colleghi che molto materiale archeologico (papiri, iscrizioni, oggetti, vetri dipinti, stoffe, monete) recuperato illegalmente, a partire dal 2011, è adesso sul mercato antiquario egiziano, da Mallawi al Cairo, e forse in parte già trasmigrato."
Since that time, Bastianini and Pintaudi have posted a detailed PDF file with pictures and annotations illustrating the damage that has been done to the ancient site by the local villagers of el Sheikh Abada since the January 2011 revolution. The document can be found on the Vitelli Institute's website here. The images are disturbing: graves have been dug illegally, erected columns have been knocked over, children have been systematically looting the site, excavation work has been completely destroyed on purpose, building and tombs have been built illegally over portions of the ancient site, ancient walls and structures have been demolished. Also disturbing is the following report:
"The villagers said that many papyrus pieces were found in these holes and have now been sold on the black market. Nearby this large area during the same period many smaller looting holes have been made in the mounds of archaeological remains of the city."
I hope the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) will listen and stop this madness. It is unfortunate that there is such a lack of security and regulation at ancient sites such as Antinoupolis. Of course the implementation of such measures would surely require resources both financial and personnel, but the hope is that the higher powers will take serious considerations of ways in which this illegal activity can be brought to an end.