Influencer Slammed Online for Showing Off Ancient Egyptian Artifact: 'Return It'

A makeup artist and influencer with over 600,000 followers has been criticized online for sharing a video about an ancient Egyptian artifact she bought. Many have claimed the artifact could have been stolen, given the West's history of looting goods.

Erin Parsons, who describes herself as a "vintage collector," posted a video about the purchase—an ancient Egyptian cosmetics spoon—on TikTok. She bought the object from an online auction.

Although the video has since been deleted by the creator, snippets are still available to see on clips made by other TikTok users.

"This is an ancient Egyptian cosmetic spoon from around the 18th dynasty," she said as she showed the tool to the camera.

Many viewers of the video expressed their disapproval of the purchase, suggesting it could be a stolen artifact. "As an Egyptian…things like these should really not be outside my country. They're almost certainly stolen," commented @coolskatess, according to the Daily Dot.

Parsons responded by explaining how she had acquired the spoon, writing: "What I know is that it was in a private collection since the 1980s. I found it at an auction online and added it to my makeup collection."

The history of the spoon is unconfirmed and it is not known by Newsweek whether or not it was stolen.

The looted goods industry is still a booming one, however. Over history, and especially during Western colonialism, artifacts were stolen from countries including Egypt, often during wars and invasions, before being kept or sold on. Many museums across the world still hold and display these artifacts.

As recently as 2011, ancient objects were still being stolen from Egypt and sold. In 2019, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City returned a 2,100-year-old coffin of a priest called Nedjemank after it was sold to the museum by a global art trafficking network using fraudulent documents. The coffin is reported to have been looted and smuggled out of Egypt in 2011.

TikTok users responded to Parsons' video, explaining why they feel she shouldn't have purchased the spoon and suggesting what she should do next.

TikToker @islammc_ stitched Parson's video, which can be viewed here, saying: "This is one of the things I thought I'd never see on TikTok. A white woman flexing an ancient Egyptian artifact to use for makeup. As an Egyptian it makes my blood boil, because not only has she 'acquired' an ancient Egyptian artifact, she's telling people how to get others."

The TikToker shared a screenshot of a comment purportedly left by Parsons in which she writes: "There are galleries that specialize in ancient artifacts and sell online. Def look into it for yours."

@islammc_ said in his video: "Although she made a video saying she never knew they were stolen, how do you think you get your hands on ancient Egyptian artifacts? Did you think us Egyptians were handing them out in good heart?

"Contact the minister of antiquities and return it," he advised Parsons.

When contacted by Newsweek, the TikToker @islammc_ said: "I try my best to educate people on our history but people most of the time are not here for learning, but to push others to their sides disregarding the opinion of the people whose opinion matters the most—us, the Egyptians. The arrogance and the entitlement that I find on the internet is frustrating."

Parsons reportedly posted an apology video but has since deleted it, along with her original clip about the artifact.

Newsweek has contacted Erin Parsons for comment.

Update 11/12/21, 11:00 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add a comment from TikTok user @islammc_.

Influencer and Egyptian artifact
Left: Stock image of an ancient Egypt model in sand. Right: Stock image of an influencer filming a video Getty Images