CAIRO: The Egyptian Embassy in Switzerland received a 4,200 year old limestone tablet, which was reportedly stolen from antiquities ministry’s storerooms in Saqqara in 1997, the foreign ministry stated Wednesday.
The Tablet carries the name and titles of the tomb owner “Anumen.” It was discovered by the Egyptian Australian mission in 1996 in SaqQara, head of the Antiquities Ministry’s Repatriated Antiquities Department, Shabaan Abdel Gawad said in a statement Thursday.
The tablet in question was purchased by a Swiss woman from an antiquity collector. The buyer decided voluntarily to donate it back to Egypt, as when she purchased it, she did not know it was a stolen and illegally smuggled to Switzerland, said foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.
The object was seized by the Swiss federal police within the framework of a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Switzerland, signed in April 2010, that prohibits the illegal import and export of cultural properties, said Abu Zeid. The artifact will return to Egypt during the next few days, he added.
The artifact also contains a list of ancient Egypt’s seven sacred oils, which according to archaeologist Sherif el Sabban, were used in mummification and the “Opening of the Mouth ritual for the anointing of the mouth and eyes of the statue or mummy of the deceased.”
Egypt’s political turmoil has led to a security lapse at archaeological sites and storerooms and museums nationwide, leaving Egypt’s treasures vulnerable to looting. The Egyptian museum and Malawi museum are among the sites that have been affected.
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 former head Ahmed Sharaf previously told The Cairo Post.
“It is impossible to provide an accurate number of the artifacts that have been stolen since the January 25 Revolution,” he added.