Sunday, November 2, 2014

Back Home: Egypt recovers 15 stolen artifacts from U.K. auctions

Antiquities - YOUM7 (Archive)
CAIRO: The Antiquities Ministry received Tuesday 15 artifacts that were put up for sale last year at Christie’s and Bonham’s auction houses in London, said the Head of Antiquities Ministry’s Restored Artifacts Department (RAD) Ali Ahmed.

Officials from the Foreign Ministry received the artifacts earlier this month and they will be on display at the restored artifacts section at the Egyptian Museum, Ahmed told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

“We monitored several pictures of artifacts on the online selling list of Christie’s and Bonham’s auction houses in August 2013, before the pictures were examined by specialists who confirmed their authenticity,” said Ahmed. The pictures revealed some of the auctioned artifacts were stolen from the antiquities ministry’s storerooms while others resulted from illicit digging activities, according to Ahmed.

“The antiquities ministry, in coordination with Interpol and the Egyptian Embassy in London took the legal procedures to stop the sale and delist the artifacts,” he added. The artifacts include two painted cartonnages (casing make of layers of linen and plaster used for the dressing of mummies) dating back to the Middle Kingdom period (2055 B.C.-1650B.C.)

The cartonnages were identical to pictures in the ministry’s records of registered artifacts, said Ahmed, who added that they were stolen from the antiquities ministry’s storerooms at Sakkara in the wake of January 25 Revolution in 2011.

A 3,300 year-old rose granite painted relief that dates back to the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III along with a painted limestone of a cobra head are among the recovered artifacts, said Ahmed. It is estimated that around $3 billion in Egyptian antiquities were looted since January 2011 due to security lapses 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,” Sharaf said.
Source: Cairo Post By/Rany Mostafa

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