3,000-year-old coffin lid found during house clearance in UK
Auctioneer Stephen Drake beside the coffin lid - Photo courtesy of Willingham Auctions website

CAIRO: A 3,000-year-old lid of an Egyptian coffin has been found accidentally by an auctioneer during a house clearance in a deceased owner’s home in Essex, England according to the Willingham Auctions website.

During a routine house clearance in Bradwell-on-Sea, Stephen Drake of Willingham Auctions found the lid “standing in an outside wall and covered in cobwebs” when he was checking the contents of the property after the death of the owner, Drake said in a video available on the ITV website.

“It was bit like going in a tomb and right in front of me is this mummy… no it is not mummy, it is a coffin top. It was a bit like Indiana Jones,” Drake said.

Archaeologists at Cambridge University, who examined the coffin lid, believe it dates back to around 700 B.C., a guess, according to Egyptian archaeologist Sherif el-Sabban, would place the lid within Egypt’s 25th dynasty.

The Willingham Auctions website said the lid would likely earn between 2,000 British pounds-3,000 British pounds ($3,319.90-$4,979.85) at auction.

But everything may not be as it seems.

An official from the repatriation department of the Antiquities Ministry, who saw the lid’s online pictures, spoke to The Cairo Post on condition of anonymity Saturday and said the lid is most likely a replica.

“Nobody can tell whether or not the lid is authentic before it is carefully examined by specialists, but the fact the auction house plans to sell such a unique and rare artifact for only 2,000 pounds–3,000 pounds might be a strong hint to confirm the lid is fake,” he added.

The history of the coffin lid, how it reached a house in the U.K. and how the late owner acquired it remain unknown.

News reader Valerie Gifford claimed Tiger Sarll, the man who owned the house where the lid was found, was her relative, according to cambridge-news.co.uk Saturday, and that she remembered seeing the coffin lid during a visit she paid to Sarll’s house in the 1950s.

“I was just 13 at the time and living in Bottisham, and our family name was the same as his, Sarll. When the program came on, I asked my parents if we might be related, because it was such an unusual name,” she said.

Unlike the extensive collections of Egyptian coffins currently on display at the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam museum, the coffin lid seems to have been repainted at some point in the past thirty years, Stuart Leithes from ITV reported.

The decipherment of the Rosetta Stone in 1822 was followed by a global interest in Egyptian history that made Egypt the most important spot for antiquities collectors during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

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