CAIRO: The Antiquities Ministry held a ceremony Friday at Cairo International Airport to mark the repatriation of 24 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were returned from the Egyptian Museum of Leipzig University in Germany, ONA reported.
Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh el-Damaty traveled for a short visit to Germany to supervise the administrative procedures accompanying the repatriation of the artifacts, according to ONA.
The artifacts span several eras of ancient Egyptian civilization and were likely stolen from the west bank of Luxor, the head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Restored Artifacts Department Ali Ahmed told The Cairo Post.
“A set of statues dating back to the Late Period (664 B.C.-332 B.C.), amulets, beads and small pieces of pottery are among the repatriated artifacts,” Ahmed said.
An archaeological committee of the Antiquities Ministry will examine the artifacts and take them to be exhibited in the repatriated antiquities section on the ground floor of the Egyptian Museum, he added
The artifacts were gifted to the Egyptian Museum of Leipzig University three months ago, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities Ahmed Sharaf told The Cairo Post.
“Since none of the artifacts had a provenance—a document that traces an artifact’s chain of ownership back to its excavation—administrators at Leipzig University’s museum decided to return the artifacts to where they belonged,” Sharaf said.
Political turmoil in Egypt since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and the subsequent security lapse left the country’s cultural heritage vulnerable to looting. In spite of the efforts of the Egyptian government in tracking artifacts smuggled outside Egypt and in auction houses abroad, the issue is still unsettled.
The Antiquities Ministry has conducted a global search campaign for stolen antiquities displayed in several auction houses and several electronic sales websites including eBay.
The 5,200 year-old Rosetta Stone, currently exhibited in the British Museum in London and a 3,300-year-old painted limestone bust of Nefertiti, the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaton exhibited in Neues Museum in Berlin, are among the most significant ancient Egyptian artifacts abroad.