CAIRO: The Egyptian Embassy in Vienna has recovered an ancient Egyptian figurine that was reportedly looted in the wake of 2011 uprising, the state news agency MENA reported Monday.
The statue was seized while two Austrian men were offering the statue for sale for 2 million Euros ($2.17 million.) The pair claimed that they had bought it from a used goods market in Vienna’s town of Vols. Since they were not able to provide the artifact’s provenances (document that trace an artifact’s chain of ownership back to its excavation,) the two men stand trial over charges of “antiquity theft,” according to MENA.
The authentication of the statue was approved by experts from Vienna’s Art History Museum before it was handed over to Egypt’s Ambassador to Austria Khaled Shamaa. The experts said the statue dates back to the Old Kingdom Period (2686 B.C-2181B.C.)
Egypt’s ancient sites have been targeted for thousands of years but the upheavals and the security lapse following the 2011 revolution have helped looters and tomb robbers target museums and several archaeological sites for treasures to sell on the black market.
Egypt recovered a 2,300-year-old mask from Germany, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty announced Monday.
“The mask was in possession of a German citizen who, according to his late mother’s will, decided voluntarily to return back to the Egyptian embassy in Berlin,” said Damaty.
During the past four years, a third of Egypt’s archaeological sites “have been either looted, exposed to agricultural encroachments or illegal building or experienced illicit digging,” world-renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawaas said in a statement earlier this year.
He called on the current Antiquities Ministry to push for harsher punishment on antiquities crimes by changing the crime description from misdemeanor to felony