More than 2,500 Egyptian archaeologists have signed a petition demanding that the British Museum return the Rosetta Stone to Egypt.
Amidst a global conversation of returning treasures and cultural artifacts that got transplanted in the middle of colonialism and slavery, Egyptian archaeologists have taken a stand as the campaign calls on Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to file an official request for the repatriation of the Rosetta Stone and 16 other antiquities. These antiquities are illegally or unethically removed from the country.
“Previously, the government alone started asking for Egyptian artifacts”, said Monica Hanna, an archaeologist who co-founded the current restitution campaign and acting Dean of the College of Archaeology in the Egyptian city of Aswan. “But today this is the people demanding their own culture back.”
“I am sure all these objects eventually will come back. The ethical code of museums is changing, it’s just a matter of when,” said Hanna.
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian stone bearing inscriptions in several languages and scripts which was issued in Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty on behalf of King Ptolemy V Epiphanes. Their decipherment led to the understanding of hieroglyphic writing. After the French surrender of Egypt in 1801, it passed into British hands and is now in the British Museum in London.