This week was very fruitful for the repatriation of stolen antiquities. Egypt succeeded in recovering seven distinguished artefacts that had been illegally smuggled out of the country.
Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced that the Egyptian embassy in the United States received in early December four Late Period artefacts while the Egyptian embassy in Switzerland received an ancient Egyptian stelae. On Wednesday, the Egyptian embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) received two Islamic lamps.
These objects will arrive to Egypt as soon as shipping and packaging procedures are completed.
El-Enany expressed his full appreciation for the efforts exerted by both the ministries of foreign affairs and the interior in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities as well as foreign authorities to repatriate the objects and protect Egypt's cultural and archaeological heritage.
Shaaban Abdel Gawad, general supervisor of the Antiquities Repatriation Department at the ministry said that the pieces recovered from the UAE consists of two Islamic lamps that were stolen from the store gallery of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in 2015, along with two other lamps. The thieves replaced them with replicas. One of the lamps belongs to Sultan Barquq and has been recently recovered from London. The second is still missing while the third and forth were recovered from the UAE.
Abdel Gawad explained that the first recovered lamp from the UAE belongs to Prince Selehdar while the second belongs to Sultan Hassan.
Sarcophagus of a child
From Switzerland Egypt repatriated three parts of an ancient Egyptian stelae that were reported missing from Al-Gorna store on Luxor's west bank in 1995.
The stelae belongs to a man called Sheshenefertom and is carved in limestone. It was originally discovered by an Italian archaeological mission from Rome University inside Shashanq tomb number TT27 at Al-Assassif necropolis on Luxor’s west bank.
Abdel-Gawad pointed out that the objects recovered from the United States are dated to the Late Pharaonic period and includes a wizened mummified hand, a painted child sarcophagus, a gilded mummy mask, an anthropoid li of a wooden sarcophagus decorated with different ancient Egyptian religious scenes, as well as a painted linen mummy shroud.
Early December, Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United States that imposes restrictions on the importation of illicit antiquities from Egypt.
Abdel Gawad said the most important articles of the MoU is that the US government has to return to Egypt any material on the designated list forwarded to Washington. It should also use its best efforts to facilitate technical assistance in cultural resource management and security in Egypt, as appropriate, under available programmes.
Abdel Gawad added that according to the MoU Egypt should promote best practices in cultural resource management and encourage coordination among cultural heritage authorities tourism authorities, religious authorities, and development agencies to ensure the enforcement of laws that protect heritage sites from encroachment, unsanctioned appropriation, looting, and damage.