Granite depiction of cow-shaped deity returns to Egypt

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 7 Jun 2011

Stolen engraving that features the ancient Egyptian goddess Akht had been up for auction in London

the recovered engraving

After 11 years of absence from the Behbit El-Hegara temple in El-Gharbiya governorate, the engraving featuring the cow-shaped ancient Egyptian deity Akht will soon be back in its original position. The engraving is part of a larger one at Behbit El-Hegara temple which was built during the reign of the 30th dynasty king Nakhtanebo.

Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, general supervisor of the office of the minister of state for antiquities, said that the engravings and reliefs that decorated the temple were archaeologically documented by French Egyptologist Chrsitian Farfard Mix in 1977 and, in 1989, they were registered in the official documents of the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation. In 1990, Abdel Maqsoud relates, theives broke into the temple and cut the engraving from the wall, along with other parts of the temple’s decoration.

During the routine work of the minister of state for antiquities to trace Egypt’s antiquities illicitly smuggled out the country, this engraving showed up among objects on sale in the monthly catalogue issued by the largest auctioneers of fine art, London’s Bonhams.

With the help of Egypt’s embassy in London, the country succeeded in retrieving the engraving and withdrawing it from the auction.

The engraving is now at the Egyptian Museum for restoration, in order to be returned back to its original position at Behbit El-Hegara temple.

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