The Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Police have succeeded in recovering two well-preserved limestone reliefs stolen in 1986 by an international antiquities smuggling gang from Saqqara archaeological storehouses.
The objects belong to the Fifth Dynasty tomb of the king's royal hairdresser Hetepka, discovered by British archaeologists Geoffrey Martin in the late 1960’s at the Old Kingdom cemetery at Saqqara necropolis.
Although several members of the gang were caught in 2002 and sent to prison, among them the gang’s mastermind, Jonathan Tokeley-Parry and his partner, British antiquities trader Frederick Schultz, the four objects they stole had not been recovered.
Two of the objects have been found.
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) Mostafa Amine said that both recovered items are limestone reliefs engraved with ancient Egyptian decorations and hieroglyphic texts. The first one, he continued, is a rectangular shaped relief of 100 centimetres in height and 60 centimetres in width. It depicts four geese and is decorated with hieroglyphic text.
The second relief, Amine pointed out, is engraved with three lines of hieroglyphic text written vertically as well as the cartouches of two of the Fifth Dynasty kings Sahure and Neferirkare.
Atef Abul Dahab, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the SCA explained that following the trial of Tokeley-Parry and Schultz, Egypt reported the missing objects to Interpol, who is still looking for the other two reliefs that depict scenes of Egypt’s wildlife along with hieroglyphic text.
Abul Dahab told Ahram Online that the two newly recovered objects are now in storage awaiting restoration.