Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Short Story: Sarcophagi Lids Returned
After four years on show at an antiquities auction hall in Jerusalem, two stolen and illegally smuggled sarcophagi lids are now back home in Egypt, writes Nevine El-Aref.
This is the second time that Egypt has successfully recovered ancient Egyptian artefacts from Israel since the peace treaty was signed between the two countries in 1979. The first was in the 1990s, when Egypt received a large collection of objects that had been excavated in Sinai by an Israeli archaeological mission during the country’s occupation of the Peninsula.
This time the situation is different, as Egypt has recovered two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi lids that were stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country. Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, supervisor of the Antiquities Recovery Department at the Ministry of Culture, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the lids were stolen during illegal excavations, probably due to the lack of security in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution, and were seen on show at an auction hall in Jerusalem in 2012.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Jerusalem branch of Interpol noticed the lids and the incident was reported to the Egyptian police, who passed the information on to the Antiquities Ministry. Investigations revealed that the lids were smuggled out of the country to Jerusalem via Dubai by an Israeli antiquities trader, Abdel-Gawad said.
After the necessary diplomatic procedures were completed, the lids arrived safely back in Egypt and are now on display in the foyer of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square for restoration and permanent display. The lids, which date back to the ancient Egyptian era, are made of carved wood, painted with coloured cartonnage and decorated with hieroglyphic symbols.