Last November, I was thrilled to visit Egypt for the first time and, like millions before me, was overcome by the age and beauty of its monuments and artifacts. To put things in perspective, when Antony and Cleopatra were joining hearts (and forces) two thousand years ago, they went sightseeing at the Pyramids, which were already two and a half thousand years old. Antony and Cleopatra are closer to us on the historical timeline than they are to the Pyramids. The oldest of the Ancient Wonders, and the only one that has survived, the Great Pyramid at Giza is easily argued the most important World Heritage site on the planet.
Tourism is obviously one of Egypt's largest industries and it is frightening and heartbreaking that vandalism occurred this weekend at both the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (home to the greatest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world) and the Memphis Museum south of the city. See images of the damage and read details at HyperAllergic.com. It seems that the vandalism and looting at the Egyptian Museum was committed by two small groups--nine men, perhaps--which included, sadly, some of the museum's own guards. The Memphis Museum is reported to have been completely looted.