Tourism and Antiquities Police have recovered a stolen limestone naos (shrine) hidden inside a residential home in Mit-Rahina town in Al-Badrasheen city, south of Cairo.
Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said the ministry's archaeological committee had confirmed the naos is authentic and dates from the Old Kingdom.
It includes four statues of persons fixed on four bases engraved with hieroglyphic verses from The Pyramid Texts. The first statue is 16 cm tall and depicts a standing figure wearing a black wig. The second is 19.2 cm tall and features a person wearing a coloured wig, while the third statue is 9.2 cm in height and may be of a child wearing a coloured wig. On his chest is engraved line of hieroglyphics. The fourth statue is 16.4 cm tall and depicts a person with a black wig.
Aly El-Asfar, deputy head of the Ancient Egyptian department at the ministry, said the statues could be of the same person different during stages of life. The naos is now under investigation to discover its original location and whether it was dug illegally.
The possessor of the naos is now being held in custody and is being investigated, he said.
Mit Rahina archaeological site was subjected to looting in 2011 due to the lack of security in the aftermath of January 2011 revolution.
Mit-Rahina, historically known as Memphis, was the capital of Ancient Egypt for over eight consecutive dynasties during the Old Kingdom.
The city reached its peak during the 6th Dynasty, becoming the epicentre of worship of Ptah, the Egyptian god of creation and artworks.
With the rise of Thebes and the New Kingdom, Memphis briefly declined after the 18th Dynasty, becoming the second largest Egyptian city until 641 CE, before it was eventually abandoned, becoming a stone quarry for the surrounding settlements.
Memphis now houses the ruins of Ancient Egyptian, Ptolemaic as well as Graeco-Roman temples and chapels.