CAIRO: A Pharaonic temple was unearthed under a house in the town of Akhmim in Sohag after the owner was caught by the police digging into his house in search of artifacts, Youm7 reported Monday.
Tourism and Antiquities authorities went after the suspect after receiving information on a man drilling underneath his house seeking antiques, which he later confessed to, according to ONA News Agency. Seven people were arrested in total.
The police found a three-square-meter hole, its depth ranged between five to ten meters, according to different news websites. Two pottery lanterns and a pot with inscriptions were found in the suspects’ possession, ONA added.
No further information was announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
The quest for antiques is a popular practice in Upper Egypt and a wide black market of antiques is believed to be operating under the supervision of some corrupt policemen.
It is common for citizens to discover tombs and sell found gold and other treasures through the black market. The situation is a bit more difficult if the discoverers come across antiquities in big sizes such as statues or columns or find them in temples.
Citizens are legally required to immediately report on any unearthing. According to the law to preserve antiquities, any person involved in smuggling antiquities should be sentenced to life in prison and fined from 50,000 to 250,000 EGP. Drilling for antiquities is also not allowed to be performed by non-authorized institutions or missions.
Nonetheless some Islamic preachers say that anything found on one’s property is their belonging and has the right to manage it as they please. Their argument is that if those antiquities dated back to a pre-Islamic era, then the discoverer is allowed to own and manage the belongings of “non-believers.”