Egyptian and Arab antiquities take pride of place in Vienna museum

This Oct. 2018 photo, released by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, shows archaeologists uncovering parts of a booth with a seat that belonged to Ramses II, one of the longest ruling pharaohs in antiquity, in eastern Cairo's Matariya neighborhood, Egypt. (AP)
Updated 27 October 2018
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Egyptian and Arab antiquities take pride of place in Vienna museum

  • Most of the additions in the first half of the 20th century were the result of archaeological excavations in Egypt and Nubia financed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Three Egyptian monolithic columns more than six meters in height support the ceilings

CAIRO: One of the world’s most important collections of Egyptian antiquities is on show in the Fine Arts Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in Vienna.
The museum holds more than 17,000 objects that date from a period of almost 4,000 years, from the Egyptian Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (ca. 3500 BC) to the early Christian era.
Geographically their origins range from Egypt, Nubia, the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia to the Arabian Peninsula. The Egyptian collection contains about 6,000 pieces, traced back to the Pharos, Ptolemaic and Greek-Roman Periods.
The collection has a history extending back to around 1560. The Egyptian antiquities already in the ruling Habsburg family’s possession were held in the coin collection and cabinet of antiquities.
The museum said: “The holdings of Egyptian artefacts were considerably expanded by various gifts and acquisitions, most importantly by the objects purchased in Egypt in 1821 by the physician Ernst August Burghart, and the Austrian general consul in Alexandria from 1824 to 1849, Anton Ritter von Laurin.”
Other pieces were provided by Crown Prince Rudolf, the son of Emperor Franz Joseph, who acquired numerous Egyptian artefacts during his travels to Egypt in 1881, the museum explained.
Most of the additions in the first half of the 20th century were the result of archaeological excavations in Egypt and Nubia financed by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Among them are the famous Reserve Head, numerous tomb statues, inscribed architectural components such as false doors and architraves, coffins of stone and wood, jars, jewelry and vessels made from various materials.
“These masterpieces are the treasures of my ancestors,” said Samah Hussien, an Egyptian citizen based in Vienna, who was admiring the treasures in the museum.
“I am so proud to see Egyptian pieces in one of the most famous museums in the world but it is painful to see them here, and not in my country,” he added.
The rooms holding the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection are magnificently decorated with an ancient Egyptian design. Three Egyptian monolithic columns more than six meters in height support the ceilings. The columns, which were excavated in Alexandria, were a gift to Emperor Franz Joseph in 1869, the fine arts museum said.
The monumental museum buildings, built as part of the Emperor Franz Joseph’s expansion of the city in 1858, was intended to appropriately represent the artistic treasures that had been collected by the Habsburgs over the centuries.
The museum was ceremoniously opened in 1891.


Erdogan and Putin vow closer cooperation on Syria at Moscow talks

Updated 38 min 7 sec ago
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Erdogan and Putin vow closer cooperation on Syria at Moscow talks

  • The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict
  • Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday vowed to coordinate their actions more closely in Syria.
“Cooperation between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone for Syrian peace and stability,” Erdogan said in translated comments at a joint press conference after their talks, which lasted around three hours.
“With our Russian friends we intend to strengthen our coordination even more.”
“We agreed how we’ll coordinate our work in the near future,” Putin said, calling the talks which included the countries’ defense ministers “effective.”
At the start of their meeting in the Kremlin, Putin addressed Erdogan as “dear friend,” saying that their countries “work on issues of regional security and actively cooperate on Syria.”
Erdogan used the same term for Putin and said “our solidarity makes a weighty contribution to the security of the region.”
The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict: Russia provides critical support to the Syrian government, while Turkey has backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Despite this, they have worked closely to find a political solution to the seven-year conflict.
Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria following US President Donald Trump’s shock announcement last month about pulling 2,000 American troops out of Syria.
Putin said that if carried out, the withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria “will be a positive step, it will help stabilize the situation in this restive area.”
Turkey has also welcomed Washington’s planned withdrawal, but the future of US-backed Kurdish militia forces labelled terrorists by Ankara has upset ties between the NATO allies.
Erdogan had said on Monday he would discuss with Putin the creation of a Turkish-controlled “security zone” in northern Syria, suggested by Trump.
The US-allied Kurds, who control much of the north, have rejected the idea, fearing a Turkish offensive against territory under their control.
Putin said Wednesday that Russia supports “establishing dialogue between Damascus officials and representatives of the Kurds.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week said that Damascus must take control of the north.
The northwestern province of Idlib earlier this month fell under the full control of a jihadist group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The Russian foreign ministry said earlier Wednesday that the situation in the province remained of “serious concern.”
Putin said that the leaders discussed the situation in Idlib “in great detail today.”
“We have a shared conviction that we must continue jointly fighting terrorists wherever they are, including in the Idlib zone,” the Russian leader said.
Erdogan said that the countries will wage a “lengthy fight” in Syria.
Nearly eight years into Syria’s deadly conflict, the planned US pullout has led to another key step in Assad’s Russian-backed drive to reassert control.
Kurdish forces who were left exposed by Trump’s pledge to withdraw have asked the Syrian regime for help to face a threatened Turkish offensive.
The Kremlin hailed the entry by Syrian forces into the key northern city of Manbij for the first time in six years after Kurds opened the gates.
Moscow plans to organize a three-way summit with Turkey and Iran early this year as part of the Astana peace process, launched by the three countries in 2017.
Putin said Wednesday the next summit would be held “in the near future” in Russia, saying the leaders still needed to agree the time and location with Iran.
The last meeting between Putin, Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani took place in Iran in September last year with the fate of rebel-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.
Ties between Russia and Turkey plunged to their lowest level in years in November 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane over Syria.
But after a reconciliation deal in 2016, relations have recovered at a remarkable speed with Putin and Erdogan cooperating closely over Syria, Turkey buying Russian-made air defense systems and Russia building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.