The stela was stolen from a temple in Egypt. File photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Recovered Artifacts, Switzerland: Geneva Returns Stolen Artifact to Egypt
Switzerland will return to Egypt an ancient stela stolen from a temple dedicated to the goddess Isis, Geneva's public prosecutor said on Monday.
The stone slab bearing a relief design was stolen 30 years ago from the Iseion temple at the Behbeit El Hagar archeological site in Lower Egypt.
"During an inventory control in the Geneva free economic zone at the end of 2014, the federal customs identified... a granite engraving of unknown origin and alerted Geneva police, who opened a criminal case," the public prosecutor said.
Egyptologist Philippe Collombert from the University of Geneva examined the artefact and it was traced to the Isis temple near the towns of Sebennytos and Mansoura in the Nile delta, the statement said.
Investigators compared photographs taken by French archeologist Christine Favard Meeks at the site in the 1970s to more recent ones which "established without any doubt that the granite engraving was stolen from" Behbeit El Hagar. The tablet will shortly be handed over to Egyptian authorities.
The Iseion was one of the major centres of the Isis cult in antiquity, comparable to those in the temple complexes at Philae and Abydos in Upper Egypt.
Isis was venerated as the goddess of health, marriage and wisdom. She was the consort of Osiris, the Egyptian god of death and the underworld.
Egypt has been campaigning to have many precious artefacts housed in European museums that it considers stolen to be returned, such as the Nefertiti Bust in Berlin.