Monday, September 29, 2014

News: Newly recovered stolen Egyptian artifacts on display at Egyptian Museum

Ancient Egyptian artifacts - YOUM7 (Archive)
CAIRO: Over 50 Ancient Egyptian artifacts recovered from several European countries during the past year are now on display in a private exhibition at the Egyptian Museum.

“Among the restored artifacts on display is a 3,300-year-old limestone relief that was stolen from the tomb of the 18th Dynasty high priest Sobekhotep, located in the west bank of Luxor,” Dr. Aly Ahmed, the Antiquities Ministry’s Repatriated Artifacts Department head, told The Cairo Post Sunday.

A German couple bought the relief from a collector in Britain in 1986 but learnt it was stolen and returned it in mid July, said Ahmed.

“The limestone relief is in very good condition. It is 30 centimeters tall and 40 centimeters wide. It depicts two figures of Sobekhotep standing and making offerings to deities,” he added. The exhibition also includes four artifacts that were stolen and illegally smuggled to the U.K. in the aftermath of the 2011 January 25 Revolution.

“We monitored these artifacts on the lists of Bonhams and Christie’s auction houses in London in mid June and informed the Egyptian authorities to take the necessary legal procedures to recover them,” Ahmed said. Amongst the 12 artifacts are a red granite panel dating back to the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, a decorative limestone cobra head and a colored panel of limestone depicting a lotus flower.

According to Ahmed, the collection also includes eight wooden Islamic decorative pieces recovered from Denmark and an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus lid recovered from France. “The eight wooden pieces were stolen from the pulpit of the 14th century Ganem al-Bahlawan Mosque in Cairo’s Darb al-Ahmar district in 2008, and then illegally smuggled to Denmark,” Ahmed added.

It is estimated that around $3 billion in Egyptian antiquities have been looted since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and the consequent security lapse across Egypt, according to the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities, a U.S.-based initiative partnered with Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry.

During the past four years, Egypt has recovered over 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, Ministry of Antiquities Museums Sector head Ahmed Sharaf previously told The Cairo Post.

“It is impossible to provide an accurate number of the artifacts that have been stolen since the January 25 Revolution,” he said.

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