On Tuesday, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square will host a very rare Ptolemaic sarcophagus of a rat after 15 years of being on display at the Egyptian Museum in Leipzig, Germany.
The sarcophagus is wooden and as small as its host: a mummified rat. Rats symbolised the god Horus in ancient times and a subservient nation during the decline of the civilisation.
Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim reveals that the recovery of such a very distinguished and rare object began a year ago when some of the curators at the Egyptian Museum in Lisberg, Germany questioned the origins of the sarcophagus before it came into the possession of the museum. They surmised it was probably smuggled illegally out of Egypt.
Those curators, continued Ibrahim, reported their doubts to the concerned Egyptian authorities and called the Egyptian Cultural Bureau in Germany. The cultural burea, in turn, trailed the documents and confirmed that it, indeed, belonged to Egypt.
The sarcophagus was among the artefacts discovered by a Cairo University excavation mission led by Egyptian Egyptologists Sami Gabra in1804 at the Tuna Al-Gabal archaeological site in the governorate of El-Menya.
In November 1964, Ibrahim continued, a German antiquities collector called Robert Schleicher bought the sarcophagus from an antiquities trader in Amsterdam and it was offered to the museum later.