Thursday, January 10, 2019
Egypt has retrieved an ancient artifact illegally smuggled out of the country after being displayed at an auction hall in London, the antiquities ministry said. Witten By/ Nevine El-Aref.
The piece, a cartouche of King Amenhotep I, was identified following observation of international auction websites, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The ministry took all the necessary measures to stop the sale of the relief and withdraw it from auction,” it added.
The ministry did not elaborate on when or how the artifact was stolen and smuggled out of the country.
The relic was earlier exhibited at the open museum of the ancient temple of Karnak in the southern city of Luxor, the ministry's repatriation department director Shaaban Abdel-Gawad said.
The Egyptian embassy in London received the piece last September following coordination between the foreign ministry, the embassy and British authorities, Abdel-Gawad added.
Earlier this month, the BBC reported that the only casing stone from the Great Pyramid of Giza will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from 8 February.
The large block of fine white limestone will go on show for the first time outside Egypt and the first time since it arrived in Scotland in 1872, the BBC said.
Abdel-Gawad told Ahram Online last week that Egypt would send an official inquiry to Scotland asking for a certificate of possession and export documents for the stone, adding that Egyptian authorities will take all necessary step to recover the piece if it was proved to be smuggled out of the country.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018
The ancient artifact, seized at Kuwait International Airport in March, was handed over to the Ministry of Antiquities for dating. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
An ancient Egyptian coffin lid seized in March at Kuwait International Airport has arrived safely in Egypt and was handed over to the Ministry of Antiquities at noon today.
Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, supervisor-general of the ministry’s Antiquities Repatriation Department, told Ahram Online that the lid will be sent to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC), where it will be restored and authenticated. Abdel-Gawad thanked the Egyptian foreign ministry, the Kuwaiti foreign ministry, customs authority and the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters of Kuwait for their full cooperation in returning the smuggled coffin lid to its homeland.
In March, Kuwaiti authorities announced that officers working at the air cargo terminal at Kuwait International Airport had found a 186-centimetre coffin lid professionally hidden inside a sofa while scanning of a shipment of office furniture sent from Egypt. The coffin lid was confiscated pending further investigation in compliance with the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
Kuwaiti customs authorities reported the incident to the country’s National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature (NCCAL) to determine the coffin’s origin and historical authenticity. The NCCAL set up a committee led by Sultan Gawish, director of museums and antiquities at NCCAL, which included two Egyptian professors of ancient history and antiquities, El-Sayed Mahfouz and Ahmed Said, who work at Kuwait University, to inspect the condition of the coffin and report on its authenticity.
According to the committee’s report, Abdel-Gawad said the seized object is an anthropoid coffin carved in wood in the ancient Egyptian Osirin shape, except that the hands on the coffin are not folded together in the usual way.
The lid is painted without any hieroglyphic inscriptions. Most of the surface is covered with a layer of calcined dirt and petrified rat dung. After examination, the committee recommended to return the lid to Egypt as the thick layer of dirt covering the coffin’s surface made it difficult for the committee to determine its authenticity.
"The cleaning process requires special materials that are not available to the committee,” Mahfouz said, adding that after cleaning, specialists could take a sample from the coffin for radioactive carbon analysis in order to determine its authenticity.
Although the coffin is similar to those from the late Pharaonic period and early Ptolemaic era, he continued, the separation between the body and the base and the way the lid is carved in one piece appears anomalous and requires investigation.
Thursday, August 9, 2018
A rare Islamic manuscript consigned to a Bonhams auction in London has been returned to Egypt in the latest example of Egyptian authorities succeeding in retrieving artefacts from abroad.
The manuscript titled Summary of the science of history by Mohammed bin Sulaiman Masood Al Kafiji, known as Mohiuddin Al Kafiji, was formerly in the collection of the Egyptian National Library and Archives but disappeared in the 1970s. Dating from the 14th century, it is considered an important and early study in historical theory. Al Kafiji was born in modern-day Iran but is thought to have travelled to Jerusalem and then to Cairo.
The Egyptian National Library and Archives reportedly spotted the manuscript online in a sale taking place in April. Contacting Bonhams through Egypt’s embassy in London, the library was able to show documents to prove it was the same manuscript that had previously been in its possession. After talks with the vendor, a deal was secured to ensure the safe return of the item to the Cairo library, with the auction house handing over the manuscript to the library last month.
In a press conference earlier this week to announce the return of the manuscript, Egypt’s Minister of Culture Inas Abdel-Dayem thanked Bonhams for agreeing to help in the negotiations with the manuscript’s owner. While Bonhams would not reveal anything about how the vendor had acquired it or what level it had been estimated, a spokesman for the auctioneers said: “Bonhams was delighted to be of assistance in helping the owner restore this important manuscript to its rightful home.”
Since June, Egyptian authorities have also succeeding in retrieving ancient Egyptian artefacts from both France and Italy. In a separate development, the Thai embassy in Washington, DC recently secured the return of a group of a dozen ancient artefacts from a private American collector. The items relate to the prehistoric civilization in Thailand's northeastern province of Udon Thani. Thai culture minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said the country has been gathering evidence to make claims over other items, including works in a number of US museums.
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