After almost one year of diplomatic negotiations, Israel has offered Egypt two pieces of a painted anthropoid coffin lid that belonged to an unidentified 16th Dynasty nobleman. The lid is expected to arrive in Cairo within two weeks after having been seized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) from a shop showroom in Jerusalem's Old City in April of last year.
Osama El-Nahas, director-general of the Repatriation of Antiquities Department at Egypt's Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), told Ahram Online that the lid had been very well preserved despite being broken in two. Each part of the lid is made of carved wood, painted on plaster and decorated with colourful religious scenes.
According to El-Nahas, the lid was stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country and slightly modified to look like a replica. It was first taken to Dubai, from where it was transported to Israel, where it subsequently turned up in a shop in Jerusalem's Old City.
Last September, MSA officials formally requested the object's return to Egypt. Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said his ministry had sent an official letter to Egypt's embassy in Tel Aviv requesting Israel to take all legal and diplomatic procedures necessary for the object's restoration to Egypt.
After several meetings with Israeli counterparts, the IAA bought the lid from the shop owner and promised it to Egypt. Ibrahim says that within two weeks the lid will arrive in Cairo, where it will be stored at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square for restoration before being put in a special display in the museum’s foyer.