Egypt has recovered nearly 30,000 antiquities since 2011: Official

Farida Elserty, Sunday 12 Dec 2021

Egypt has recovered nearly 30,000 illegally smuggled artifacts from abroad since 2011, including 5,300 in 2021 alone, General Supervisor of the Repatriation Antiquities Department Shaaban Abdel-Gawad said on Saturday.

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad
General Supervisor of the Repatriation Antiquities Department Shaaban Abdel-Gawad

Recovery efforts are conducted by a technical committee staffed by experts, who scour international antiquity auctions, Abdel-Gawad explained during an interview with Al-Hayat satellite channel.

He also stressed that antiquities are recovered from abroad thanks to bilateral agreements with Cyprus, Greece, Jordan, Lebanon and a number of European Union countries.

Concerning the 5,300 artifacts recovered in 2021, Abdel-Gawad stated that they are now shown at the Coptic Museum in Cairo after they were in the possession of the Museum of the Bible in Washington.

The negotiations to recover these artifacts started in 2016 between Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and authorities in the United States, he said.

The Department of Repatriation in the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities is also tracking black-marketed auctions and internet sales, including on eBay and Amazon.

He pointed out that the ministry is cooperating with other Egyptian ministries, noting that monitoring antiquities on social media sites or other places of sale "is a difficult matter because it is not easy to track account holders."

On 6 December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the repatriation of cultural property after it was supported by 111 countries, Greece’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Twitter.

In response, Osama Abdel-Khaleq, the Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, stated that Egypt supported this resolution to enhance international efforts to repatriate the smuggled ancient artifacts.

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