The struggle over the Egypt’s cultural heritage became increasingly political in the early 20th century as Egyptians demanded their freedom.
But just as Egyptians' "sense of ownership" of their heritage grew, ancient Egypt was appropriated as "world civilisation" with little to do with the modern country, argued Abdel Gawad, an Egyptologist.
"Those who documented the old Egyptian civilisation are foreigners, so we should understand that their writing was during the time of colonialism and racism, that's why there is a kind of so-called whitewashing by creating a historic white narrative."
Over the centuries, countless antiquities made their way out of Egypt. Others were lost to European museums through the colonial-era partage system.
But hundreds of thousands more were smuggled out of the country into "private collections all over the world,"
Some records, key to academic research, were also donated to the Griffith Institute for Egyptology at Britain's Oxford University.
"Unfortunately, until today, not only are the stolen antiquities in European museums, but also, the production of knowledge on ancient Egypt is still limited to the Western academia circles," said Monica Hanna, acting dean of the College of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in Aswan.
Former antiquities minister Hawass is now spearheading a crusade to repatriate three of the great "stolen" treasures -- the Rosetta Stone, the bust of queen Nefertiti and the Dendera Zodiac.
"I insist that the Rosetta Stone, the bust of queen Nefertiti and the Zodiac which is displayed at the Louvre should be brough back to Egypt. These are unique objects, their home should be in Egypt, not Germany, England, or France."
Over the centuries, countless antiquities made their way out of Egypt. Some, like the Luxor Obelisk in Paris and the Temple of Debod in Madrid, were gifts from the Egyptian government.
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