Antiquities guards Dayr al-Barsha
On Saturday 20 February, in the middle of the night, the antiquities guards of Dayr al-Barsha (Middle Egypt) were confronted with a gang of tomb robbers who were looting one of the tombs at the site. In an ensuing exchange of fire, one of the guards, Ashrawy, was killed, while two others were injured. Ashrawy has been with us as a guard since the start of the KU Leuven mission to Dayr al-Barsha. He was a very loyal and gentle man. Yesterday we were informed that the second guard, Mustafa Ali, who was badly injured, also passed away. Both men did not deserve such a fate, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.
These two men gave their lives trying to protect the antiquities of Ancient Egypt. While their families receive compensation from the Ministry of Antiquities, this will not suffice to cover the loss of wages they encounter on top of the personal loss they are now suffering. Therefore, the Dayr al-Barsha project is starting this GoFundMe campaign to support the families of both guards. The income from this fund will be personally handed over in full to the families, and updates will be posted on this page.
Please help us in showing your support for the men who protect the heritage of Ancient Egypt, and who paid the ultimate price to do so. Every donation, no matter how small, will help their families in coping with this loss.
The team of the Dayr al-Barsha project, KU Leuven, Belgium
For news reports, see:
This week we visited the families of the two guards, and we want to give you some more information so you know where your money is going and how it is being used.
Mustafa Ali (36) leaves behind a wife, Hamdiya, and two little girls, Aya and Rehab, aged 6 and 3. Hamdiya is also 5 months pregnant with twins, and they lost their son about two months ago. The loss of her husband in such a tragic way, and especially at this time while she is expecting his children, hits her extremely hard. Mustafa initially survived the attack, but suffered three bullet wounds, and died of complications in the hospital a day later. Hamdiya works as a conservator and restorer, just like her brother, in the museum of Mallawi. This family was clearly devoted to safeguarding Egypt’s antiquities in various ways.
Asrawy (56) leaves behind a wife, Badur, a son, Mikhail, and five daughters, Marsa, Sharbat, Khayria, Rania, and Mariam. Only one of the five daughters is married and lives outside of the family home; all other family members live in one very modest house. Asrawy was the main provider of income for this entire household, and the loss of his wage will be strongly felt. His family expressed great pride in the way he died to protect the antiquities to which he was so dedicated all these years.
After much debate, we decided not to give each family a lump sum now, but rather to give them a monthly amount which in a way replaces the salary that Mustafa and Asrawy would have brought in. The money will be sent to the widows directly through the help of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, and only Hamdiya and Badur will be able to withdraw it. In this way the money will be guaranteed to go to the right persons. With the funding that we have available now, not only through this website but also from donations within Belgium, we can presently guarantee such a monthly income for at least three years. However, we will keep this page open, so that any additional donations will allow us to simply continue the payments for longer.
The tomb of Djehutihotep will forever bear witness to the tragic events that have taken place there. Over 20 bullet holes impacted in the relief decoration on the walls of the exterior room, and two large blackened blood stains on the floor indicate the spots where Asrawy and Mustafa were murdered. About 15 people have been arrested for these crimes and are presently in custody awaiting trial.
Please keep sharing this page and keep our guards in your memory. Thank you all for the great support!
The Dayr al-Barsha team, KU Leuven