North Africa, West Asia

Gleaming in the dust

An audio documentary uncovering the illicit trade in antiquities in post-revolution Egypt.

Square Bracket Productions
1 October 2014

In 2011, there was a revolution in Egypt. The country’s president, Hosni Mubarak, was deposed and law and order collapsed. During protests in the centre of Cairo, the Egyptian national museum was ransacked and treasures from Egypt’s ancient past were stolen.

Two years later, protests in southern Egypt led to an attack on the Mallawi archaeological museum. The United Nations catalogued the theft of more than a thousand objects from the museum.

Antiquities are being looted across Egypt. Some are lost forever — destroyed or forgotten. Others are smuggled out of Egypt and into private collections in the Middle East. And still others are finding their way to the great auction-houses of London, Paris and New York.

The Egyptian government, archaeologists, private investigators and antiquities dealers all have a part to play in stopping this illegal trade. But they all view the problem from different perspectives — occasionally complementary, often at crossed purposes.

In Gleaming in the Dust, we uncover this illicit trade and hear from some of the people trying to stop it.


Gleaming in the Dust is an audio documentary by Square Bracket Productions, and was produced by George Richards (@gergis) and Tristan Summerscale (@trissum), with music by Anthony Cardona. 

Contributors to the documentary were: Dr Monica Hanna (Egyptologist), Sohair Younis (Press Counsellor, Egyptian Embassy), Dr Chris Naunton (Director, Egypt Exploration Society), Marcel Marée (Assistant Keeper, Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department, British Museum), Julian Radcliffe (Chairman, Art Loss Register), and James Ede (Member of the Board, International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art).

The documentary was launched at the Egyptian Cultural Bureau in London in July with a panel discussion between Dr Chris Naunton, Marcel Marée, James Ede and Tristan Summerscale, chaired by George Richards.

Coming soon: follow-up interviews with George and Tristan.

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