Islamic, pharaonic items returned to Egypt from Denmark and France

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 10 Jul 2014

Eight Islamic decorations from a Cairo mosque and a sarcophagus lid were smuggled out of Egypt and ended up in Copenhaged and Paris

decorative items
decorative items

Two shipments of stolen Egyptian artefacts spanning the eras of the pharaohs and the Mamluks have been returned to Egypt, thanks to efforts from diplomatic officials.

The first consists of eight Islamic wooden art decorations stolen in 2008 from the pulpit of Ghanim Al-Bahlawan Mosque in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar in Cairo's historic Islamic district.

Ghanim Al-Bahlawan Mosque, named after the Circassian Mamluk, was constructed in 1478 AD during the reign of Sultan Qait Bey. The decorative items depict geometrical patterns embellished with ivory.

Ali Ahmed, head of restoration at Egypt's antiquities ministry, told Ahram Online that the story started in 2012 when the Egyptian embassy in Copenhagen reported that Denmark's customs police had uncovered a package containing the stolen items, with investigations revealing that the package had been dispatched from the United States to Switzerland via Denmark.

Egypt's antiquities ministry then took all legal procedures to recover the decorative items and filed a lawsuit to bring them back, said Ahmed.

Two weeks ago a Danish court ruled that the artefacts must be returned to Egypt.

Meanwhile, an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus lid stolen in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising from the French Mission galleries by the Saqqara pyramids has also been returned.

When the lid showed up on the selling list of a Paris auction house, Egyptian official took diplomatic efforts and succeeded in having the artefact returned, Ahmed said, adding that the lid is in very good condition and that it depicts the facial features of its owner.

 All the returned items are now at the Egyptian Museum for restoration and will be displayed in an exhibition for retrieved antiquities.

decorative items
decorative items

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