Former Egyptian antiquities minister and archaeologist Zahi Hawass is calling on the British Museum in London to return the Rosetta Stone to Egypt.
Hawass announced that in October he will send a petition “signed by a group of Egyptian intellectuals” to European museums demanding they return three artifacts: the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum, a bust of Queen Nefertiti from Berlin’s Neues Museum and the Dendera Zodiac ceiling from the Louvre in Paris, The National reported.
“I believe those three items are unique and their home should be in Egypt. We collected all the evidence that proves that these three items are stolen from Egypt,” Hawass told The National.
Why does the British Museum have the Rosetta Stone?
The Rosetta Stone, which was the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, was was found by Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops in 1799 while they were building a fort near the town of Rashid, or Rosetta, in Egypt, according to ARTnews.
The 2,200-year-old artifact was then given to the British Museum from France in 1802 under a treaty during the Napoleonic Wars. It has been on display in the British Museum since then, per Time Out.
“The Rosetta Stone is the icon of Egyptian identity. The British Museum has no right to show this artifact to the public,” Hawass said.
However, there has not been a formal request to return the Rosetta stone, the British Museum said, according to The National.
Will the British Museum return the Rosetta Stone?
So far, there has been no indication that the British Museum plans to return the Rosetta Stone to Egypt, but Hawass’ campaign comes after several successful repatriation efforts.
For example, Scotland’s Glasgow Museums recently returned stolen artifacts from India, according to Museums Associations.
The British Museum has also recently proposed a “Parthenon partnership” with Greece in which the Museum would loan the Parthenon Marbles to Greece provided they return the sculptures, The Art Newspaper reported.