CAIRO: The Antiquities Ministry stated Sunday it was monitored and suspended the sale of 10 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were listed for sale in an Australian auction house.
The artifacts, spanning several periods of ancient Egyptian history, were spotted on the website of the auction house a few weeks ago, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said.
“As soon as the artifacts were monitored, the ministry’s Restored Artifacts Department (RAD) in cooperation with Egypt’s embassy in Australia initiated the required legal procedures to retrieve the artifacts after their authenticity was confirmed by experts,” head of the RAD Aly Ahmed said.
After the experts were deeply skeptical about some of the artifacts, the department pursued the diplomatic path and contacted officials at the Australian government and at the auction house to verify and present the artifacts’ provenances, said Ahmed.
“The Australian authorities responded and seized the artifacts and will send them back to Egypt during the coming few weeks,” said Ahmed, who confirmed the artifacts are the outcome of illicit digging activities that occurred in several archaeological sites across the country in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution and its consequent security lapse.
Keeping track of registered artifacts that have been stolen from archaeological sites, museums and storerooms of the antiquities ministry, “is definitely the easiest part of our job, while the process of detecting and repatriating unregistered ones is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Ahmed previously told The Cairo Post.
We can monitor what is being sold in public but we cannot monitor what is being sold in secret. There is no record of how many artifacts have gone missing so far as many were taken from illicit digging, and there is no way to know that they even exist, ” Ahmed said.
During the past four years, Egypt has recovered over 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, he said.