239 smuggled Egyptian artifacts retrieved from France
Part of the repatriated artifacts - Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry

CAIRO:  Egypt repatriated a set of 239 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were stolen from several archaeological sites and smuggled to France during the security lapses in the aftermath of January 25 Revolution, Head of Antiquities Ministry’s Restored Artifacts Dept. Ali Ahmed told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

“The artifacts, spanning several periods of ancient Egyptian history, were seized by the French Authorities and were examined by specialists in the Louvre museum, who confirmed their authenticity,” said Ahmed.

They will be delivered to officials at the Egyptian embassy in Paris before they are dispatched to Cairo during the next few weeks, he said, adding that 63 artifacts were also examined by French archaeologists who decided they were not original.

Most of Egypt’s major archaeological sites have been targeted for looting since the 2011 uprising toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of ancient Egyptian artifacts, most of which were obtained from illicit digging activities, are now flooding the global markets, auction houses and electronic commerce websites.

“A set of statues dating back to the Late Period (670 B.C.-332 B.C.), amulets, beads, 3,200 year-old wooden statues, a limestone relief dating back to the New Kingdom Period (1580 B.C.-1080 B.C.) with colorful offering scenes, amulets and Islamic and Coptic pottery vessels are among the repatriated artifacts,” said Ahmed.

In spite of the efforts of the Egyptian government in tracking the smuggled artifacts inside Egypt and in auction houses abroad, the issue is still unsettled.

“During the past four years, Egypt has recovered over 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries,” Ministry of Antiquities’ Museums Sector head Ahmed Sharaf previously told The Cairo Post.

It is estimated that around $3 billion in Egyptian antiquities have been looted since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution in 2011, according to the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities, a U.S.-based initiative partnered with Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry.

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