A collection of 195 artefacts and 21,660 coins were returned to Egypt on Friday after being seized while being smuggled into Italy in May.
The artefacts were returned in collaboration with the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Rome and the Italian Public Prosecutor at the Court of Salerno.
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Waziri told Ahram Online that the recovered objects are dated from Ancient Egypt to the Islamic period.
The artefacts include 151 ushabti statuettes carved in faience, 11 pots, five cartonnage gilded mummy masks, a wooden sarcophagus, two symbolic wooden boats of the dead, two canopic jar lids and three porcelain tiles from the Islamic era.
Waziri also thanked Italian authorities, the Egyptian prosecutor-general, Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egyptian Embassy in Rome for their efforts in ensuring that the artefacts are returned.
“The return of the artefacts was executed in an unprecedentedly short period after Italian authorities reported the incident to Egyptian counterparts,” Waziri said, explaining that the usual repatriation process in such cases can take three to five years.
Waziri said that when the incident was reported to Egypt's antiquities ministry, Minister Khaled El-Enany formed an archaeological committee to inspect photos of the artefacts and called for an urgent meeting of the National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation to discuss the matter and take all the necessary procedures to return the artefacts to Egypt.
The committee is led by El-Enany, and its members are comprised of renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass, former Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the prosecutor-general, and legal and security authorities.
In mid-June, Waziri and Mohamed Ezzat, senior coordinator at the International Cooperation Administration of the prosecutor-general's office, travelled to Salerno to inspect the artefacts and confirm their authenticity.
“According to the Ministry of Antiquities' records, the objects were not stolen from any museum or store gallery in Egypt,” Waziri asserted, adding that the artefacts are now undergoing restoration and will be put on display in a temporary exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir.
Over the past two years, Egypt has succeeded in repatriating 975 stolen artefacts from 10 countries.
Waziri inspects the carttonage mask