Egypt’s petition for return of Rosetta Stone continues trending online, reaching numbers for ‘official requests’
Published: Jan 02, 2023 09:55 PM
A rubbing of Rosetta Stone Photo: VCG

A rubbing of Rosetta Stone Photo: VCG

On Change.Org, the world's largest petition platform, Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass's petition for the return of the country's priceless Rosetta Stone and Dendera Zodiac have been signed by over 142,000 supporters. Hawass, Egypt's former minister of state for antiquities affairs told the Global Times that to 'stop the practices of imperialism,' was the goal of his petition.  

Introducing the petition in October 2022, Hawass noted in his petition that he intends to urge Western museums to return Egypt's 'looted artifacts,' which he says apply to the case of the Rosetta Stone as it was removed from its discovery location in Egypt in 1799 by the occupying French army and later taken by the British three years later. 

The Rosetta Stone, today's cornerstone item at the British Museum, was a more than 2,000-year-old artifact of the Egyptian Ptolemaic Dynasty. It was inscribed with texts in Ancient Greek and Ancient Egyptian, providing researchers with clues to decode hieroglyphics civilization.  

Hawass told the Global Times that though he saw over 6,000 objects returned to Egypt during his time at the Ministry of Antiquities from 2005 to 2011, the Rosetta Stone, along with other two Egyptian treasures - a bust of Nefertiti and the Dendera Zodiac - were "icons of Egyptian identity."

Before the petition targeting the UK museum, Hawass had also been at the forefront of efforts for Germany to return the bust of Nefertiti as well as the Dendera Zodiac, which are currently housed by the Louvre in Paris, France.

"This is the 21 st century, we need to make museums stop buying looted, stolen, or otherwise illegal artifacts," Hawass told the Global Times, noting that 100,000 signatures is the level needed to send official requests to the museums.