An ancient Egyptian mummified head and hand monitored in auction Hall in London

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 3 May 2023

Egypt has taken all necessary steps to verify the export certificate of a mummified head and hand currently on display at the Swan Fine Arts Auction house in London.

An ancient Egyptian mummified


Egypt is trying to figure out how the mummified head and hand left the country. All legal procedures to stop the sale and the demand for its return will be taken in accordance with the British concerned authorities, if it was proven that the artefacts have illegally left the country.

According to the Swan Fine Arts, the mummified head left Egypt toward London during World War I with a British soldier who kept it in his home under a glass dome. The head, which radiocarbon dating suggests is 2,800-years-old, remained in the soldier's family for a century, however as some visitors were annoyed by the look of the head, it ended up being stored in a cupboard.

One of the soldier’s descendants, who chose to remain anonymous, is now selling it. It is expected to fetch up to £20,000.

As the deed of the Antiquities Repatriation Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities is to monitor all antiquities auction halls and all ancient Egyptian antiquities that are being sold abroad, it succeeded to monitor the mummified head and hand at the Swan Fine Arts.

“Egypt is taking all required procedures, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and concerned authorities in the country, to examine the export certificate of the artefacts to know how it left Egypt,” said Mostafa Waziry, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

He asserted that if the mummified head and hand left Egypt illegally, all legal procedures will be taken to stop their sale and collaborate with all concerned authorities in Egypt and the UK to demand their return back home.

The Supervisor General of the Antiquities Repatriation Department, Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, pointed out that the antiquities on auction consist of a mummified head and hand, and that it is unethical to put human remains on sale as they are not pieces of art to keep in homes, but rather “They are human remains to be respected and appreciated.”

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