Rosetta Stone will never return to Egypt, says expert at £1bn museum in Cairo
Dr Eltayeb Abbas, director of archaeological affairs at the new £1 billion museum on the outskirts of Cairo, said priceless ancient Egyptian artefacts such as the Rosetta Stone kept in museums around the world will instead inspire people to travel to Egypt to see where they originated.
He said they will act as a "good advert" for the delayed "mega-project" museum overlooking the Great Pyramids of Giza, which plans to open later this year.
Egyptians hope the facility will encourage tourists back to the country. It was also revealed that the mummy of King Tutankhamun — currently in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor — will travel 300 miles in May to its new permanent resting place in the museum amid much local controversy.
Asked about famous ancient artefacts held outside of Egypt, Dr Abbas told the Standard: "If we are going to talk seriously — these objects will never come to Egypt. But being there in Berlin or London in the British Museum — that is good propaganda for Egypt. It's a good advert."
He said he would still like to have the Rosetta Stone — the most-visited single object in the British Museum — but added: "We went into so many negotiations about this but we failed to bring it. We did ask many times before but I think now we all agree that it is okay for us to stay there, for the Rosetta Stone. "People need to see these kind of objects."
He also knocked back the idea of creating a replica of the stone at the new museum. The ancient tablet, which unlocked the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphs due to its Ancient Greek inscription, has been a long-running source of tension between Cairo and London.
Rediscovered in 1799 during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, it was captured by British forces in 1801 and transferred to the British Museum.
Ahead of the Grand Egyptian Museum's opening, the largest collection of King Tutankhamun's treasures have been on a worldwide tour, and are currently in London at the Saatchi Gallery.
The show's curator Tarek El Awady said: "This exhibition is very significant and special because it will be the last visit of King Tut to London."
Tutankhamun: Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh presented by Viking Cruises is at the Saatchi Gallery until May 3. Tickets on sale at tutankhamun-london.com.
The Standard travelled to Egypt with Wings Tours & Nile Cruises
Tut treasures get new gallery home
King Tutankhamun's treasures, including his famous golden death mask, will move permanently to a gallery especially designed for the pharaoh in the new museum.
There has been a row in Egypt over whether Tutankhamun's body should be moved from the Valley of the Kings, where the tomb was discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. Many Luxor residents rely on the tomb for tourism, but museum chiefs had already prepared a place for the mummy.
Dr Eltayeb Abbas said: "I think King Tut himself would be happy to have his mummy here."
He said they will be "very cautious" when moving the body which is in a tomb accessed by a narrow shaft. He added: "My team is doing a study on how the mummy looks now because it is fragile and really weak."
The boy pharaoh's golden coffin has already been undergoing restoration work, along with many of the other treasures, in the museum's laboratories
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