Looted sarcophagus returned to Egypt after being kept in US museum | world news

An ancient sarcophagus has been returned to Egypt from a museum in the United States after authorities determined it had been looted.

The nearly three-meter (9.5-foot) tall sarcophagus was kept at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston, Texas, until Egyptian authorities recovered it as part of government efforts to stop drug trafficking. stolen antiques.

In 2021, authorities in Cairo managed to return 5,300 stolen items from around the world to Egypt.

The sarcophagus dates back to the late dynastic period of ancient Egypt, according to Mostafa Waziri of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, a time that spanned from 664 BC to 332 BC, under the campaign of Alexander the Great.

Although part of the inscription has been erased, Mr Waziri believes the sarcophagus may have belonged to a former priest named Ankhenmaat.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, center right, and Mostafa Waziri

On Monday, the artifact was symbolically handed over in a ceremony in Cairo by Daniel Rubinstein, the US charge d’affaires in Egypt, three months after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office determined it had been looted from the Abu Sir necropolis, north of Cairo.

“This magnificent coffin was trafficked by a well-organized network that looted countless antiques in the area,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L Bragg said at the time.

“We are happy that this object is returned to Egypt, where it rightfully belongs.”

Mostafa Waziri, a senior official of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, takes a magnifying glass look at an ancient wooden sarcophagus during a handover ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. An ancient wooden sarcophagus that was displayed at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences has been returned to Egypt after US authorities determined it was looted years ago, Egyptian officials said Monday. (AP Photo/Mohamed Salah)
Mr Waziri takes a look at an ancient wooden sarcophagus during the handover ceremony

He added that around the same time in 2008, the criminal network smuggled a golden coffin which was on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York after being brought in for $4m (£3.3m) to a Parisian art dealer in 2017.

The coffin was returned to Egypt in 2019.


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