Last week, the Louvre returned five objects to Egypt that it had purchased between 2000 and 2003. The objects, discovered in a tomb near Luxor in 1980, had been the object of demands for their return in the past without success, but recently the Egyptian government had suspended relations with the Louvre and suspended its excavations at Saqqara. (See the article from Al Ahram Weekly.)
The New York Times now reports:
It didn’t go unnoticed in Paris, Berlin or Cairo that Mr. Hawass pressed his case about Nefertiti and suspended the excavations by the Louvre just after his country’s culture minister, Farouk Hosny, bitterly lost a bid to become director general of the United Nations’ cultural agency, Unesco. The post went late last month to a Bulgarian diplomat instead........
In any case, days after the Unesco decision, Mr. Hawass went after France and Germany. When questioned about the timing, he insisted there was no connection, saying he had asked the French to return the artifacts two months earlier. But that was when Mr. Hosny’s campaign had already started to fall apart.