A collection of ancient Egyptian objects from various dynasties will return back to Egypt at the end of June after winning a court case in London.
The Egyptian Embassy in London happily received 12 ancient Egyptian artefacts today following the ruling in a London court proceeding. They had been stolen and illegally smuggled out of Egypt in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.
The story behind the recovery of these objects started one year ago, when the Recuperation of Stolen Antiquities section of the Ministry of Antiquities noticed a collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts on sale at both Bonhams and Christie’s auction halls in London. They monitored the collection meticulously, awaiting corroboration that they truly belonged to Egypt.
Under the authority of Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim, a detailed inspection and examination of the objects by Egyptian archaeologists confirmed that all the objects were authentic pieces. Among the collection was a large fragment of a granite relief, discovered in 2000 by a German archaeological mission working at the Wadi Al-Hitan area on Luxor’s west bank. The relief features a Nubian captive, a piece that belonged to a larger display, once used as a decorative feature at the base of King Amenhotep III’s funerary temple.
Upon the discovery of the heinous crime, the Ministry of Antiquities proceeded with all legal measures to arrest the sale of these objects, and asked for their return to their rightful homeland. A lawsuit was then filed, and a verdict has finally been announced ordering the immediate return of the artefacts to Egypt.
The objects were then handed over to Egypt’s Embassy in London as the first step on the objets d’art long voyage home, the final destination scheduled for the end of June.
Some of the other artefacts in the cache include from the New Kingdom cobra head made of limestone, positioned beneath a sun disk and lotus flower, from the Middle Kingdom a bust of an unidentified man wearing a long wig, and a nine centimetre tall limestone head of a woman with a short wig. A part of a New Kingdom limestone relief depicts a figure standing with his hand crossed over his chest.
Egypt is anxious to welcome the relics home, and to see a lesser known facet of transitional justice be served. Being that antiquities is such an integral part of Egyptian heritage and tourism, the topic of smuggling and preserving artefacts will assuredly be a large concern for future administrations.