archive photo of a green faience ushabti
Next week Egypt is to recover a 26th Dynasty ushabti torso that was reported missing from the Egyptian Museum on 28 January 2011, in the throes of the January 25 Revolution.
Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim said that the artifact was broken into two pieces. The lower part remained in the museum while the torso was stolen and smuggled out of the country and sold to a Belgian citizen.
A few days ago, continued Ibrahim, the Belgian citizen presented the torso to a French archaeologist to ascertain its authenticity and value. The French archaeologist recognised that the torso had been in collection the Egyptian Museum. He had studied it in 1989 at the museum.
The French archaeologist reported the find to the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA), which in turn undertook the required procedures to recover it. The MSA contacted the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Egyptian embassy in Brussels, Interpol and UNESCO in order to help in the restitution of the artifact.
"The torso was among the pieces stolen from the Egyptian Museum on 28 January 2011, but regretfully it was not included in the report issued at that time about the missing objects," Ibrahim told Ahram Online.
Ibrahim added that he referred the case to the prosecutor general for investigation on why the torso was not included in the missing items report.
Ali Ahmed, head of the Antiquities Repatriation Department at the MSA, explained that the whole statue was found in the Memphis necropolis in 1858 and belonged to a nobleman of various titles, among them the holder of the north stamps.
The ushabti is 29 centimetres tall and is well known among archaeologists.