According to Abdel Monaem Abdel Azim, Luxor based researcher and Head of Luxor’s Heritage Center, Sheikh Ibrahim Ibn Abdallah., formerly John Lewis Burckhardt was a Swiss orientalist born in Baar, Switzerland. He studied history, philosophy and law in Germany and joined the African League in Cambridge University where he learned Arabic, chemistry and astronomy. He then travelled to Syria, converted to Islam and changed his name. He went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and he finally relocated to Egypt, residing in Boulak. In his house, he hosted foreigners’ meetings among whom was the fraud and world known artifacts thief, Benzoni, who previously worked as a circus clown.
Abdel Azim continued: “Sheikh Ibrahim gave Benzoni a 17-meter tall statue of the head of King Amenhotep’s III, known as “Little Memnon”, for a present. Benzoni, with an expertise in stealing artifacts and monuments, came to Luxor and was able to stealthily lift the statue in the night and transport it to the British Museum.
He explained that Bishop Henry Sault financed the transportation of the statue from Luxor to Britain. The head statue is still exhibited in the British Museum in its own showroom. The head originally belongs to a statue of King Ramses II that was smashed during a raid on Egypt because it gave the Egyptians a sense of pride. The statue is located in the West Bank in El-Quorna. Abdel Azim wondered if the statue will ever return to Egypt and called on those who are concerned with Egyptian antiquities that they see to its return.