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Botched smuggling of ancient artifacts

Hazel Heyer  May 05, 2008

CAIRO, EGYPT (ETN) - H.E. Farouk Hosni, Egypt's Minister of Culture, announced last that the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) stopped in the last hour the sale of two ancient Egyptian objects in London and Holland, in an attempt to save Egypt’s illegally smuggled heritage.

He stated that one of the objects is an inscribed relief removed from a wall in the 26th Dynasty tomb of Mutirdis in Asasif on Luxor’s west bank, and was meant to be put on sale Thursday, May 1st at Bonhams, an auction house in London.

Dr. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the SCA, said that the tomb was discovered in 1969 by the German Egyptologist Jan Assmann, who restored it between 1973 and 1974 at which time the fragment was apparently still in situ. A photograph of the inscription in situ was published by Assmann in Das Grab der Mutirdis in 1977. The relief bears a hieroglyphic inscription written in six columns. It includes a cartouche of the 26th Dynasty queen Nocratice (7th century BC), as well as different titles and the names of the tomb owner.

The relief om the tomb of Mutirdis appeared in Bonhams’s sale catalogue one week ago. In response, Hawass sent an urgent letter to Chantelle Waddington of Bonhams asking for the sale of the relief to be stopped, as it was stolen and smuggled from Egypt.

In collaboration with Egypt’s ambassador to Holland, a 19th Dynasty green ushabti figure of a woman called Hener was taken out of an auction sale, and will be returned to its homeland. This ushabti figure was stolen from a Saqqara storehouse and is now at the Leiden Museum awaiting its journey back to Egypt after the issuance of Amsterdam’s court verdict.

Botched smuggling of ancient artifacts

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