Nightly News | February 12, 2011
>>> as egyptians protested and even battled ober their country's future these last 1 19 days, they put at rest, intick kuwaits representing egypts 5,000 years of history. richard engel takes us inside the museum will curators are tallying the losses.
>> reporter: today was confirmed. eight artifacts are missing from the museum in cairo. the museum is in the middle of tahrir square. never a target of the demonstrators' anger. in factance during the chaos, they protected it, forming a human shield in front of the main gate. but two weeks ago, amid some of the worst violence, looters did manage to break in. egypt's minister's antiquities showed us the restoration work underway on 70 objects moved or damaged in the robbery.
>> they damaged completely, dated back to -- 4,000 years ago.
>> reporter: we were also able to retrace the steps of what could have been the greatest antiquities heist in egypt's modern history . the thieves first stormed into the museum gift shop . they wanted cash and gold jewelry. then, four thieves climbed on to the museum 's -- three stayed there for support. probably only one actually entered museum , came in through that broken window and lowered himself down on very thin cable, but fell off, then smashed through this case which has been repaired, badly injuries himself. the thief limped from case to case, brabing them with a metal. i. he was looking for gold and a mythical elixir called red mercury believed to be hidden in the necks of mummies and to have the power to control the spirit world . anything else was thrown aside.
>> this is really gold. and they throw it on the ground.
>> reporter: including this piece, over 3,000 years old, from ting tut's tomb. the thief was in the museum at least an hour, but was arrested by egyptian soldiers right in front of a god ez carved to protect the pharaohs and apparently still on board after thousands of years.
>> they opened the showcase in front of the gold room of king tut that contained the beautiful golden mark. it was -- saved. thank god. the golden mosque is priceless.
>> reporter: richard engel , nbc news, cairo.