CAIRO: Policemen at Upper Egypt’s governorate of Minya arrested two locals in possession of illicit antiquities including a royal mummy during a covert operation on Friday, Al-Ahram reported.
Head of the Department for Tourism and Antiquities in Minya Kamal al-Kalawy received a tip that two suspects were reportedly seen with antiquities most likely stolen from Malawy museum that was looted mid-August in 2013.
Investigations indicated that the suspects, a 32-year-old agricultural engineer and a laborer, hid the antiquities in the latter’s house in Minya’s northern town of Beni Mazar.
They were arrested in possession of a well-preserved royal mummy inside a wooden coffin carved with hieroglyphic inscriptions, Kalawy said.
Several pharaonic statues, amulets, silver dagger, kohl stick dating back to the Islamic era, along with a pedestal, and seven coins dating back to the Greco-Roman period, were among the seized artifacts, he added.
“Investigations are being carried to identify the source of the looted mummy and the other artifacts,” Kalawy said and that initial investigations revealed the two suspects were planning to sell the looted artifacts to an antiquity trader to be smuggled outside Egypt.
A police report was filed and the Supreme Council of Antiquities was notified to examine the busted artifacts.
“The variety of the busted antiquities, spanning several eras of ancient Egyptian civilization, emphasizes that they are the outcome of an illicit digging that was carried out by armed gangs,” former head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Abdel Halem Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post.
Nour el-Din praised the efforts of the Tourism and Antiquities Department policemen and called on the stakeholders to create severe legislations for looting and smuggling antiquities.
Egypt’s turmoil led to a security lapse at archaeological sites and storerooms nationwide, leaving Egypt’s treasures vulnerable to attack.
Thieves broke into Malawi museum in August and made off with more than 1,000 artifacts out of which only 42 have been repatriated, according to the statement of the Antiquities Ministry in November.
They also broke into the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and made off with over forty artifacts.