Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1183, (6 - 12 February 2014)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1183, (6 - 12 February 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Seizing antiquities

Only 935 of the 2,500 stolen artefacts seized by police at a farm in Giza have been authenticated, reports Nevine El-Aref

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Earlier this week, the ministry of state for antiquities (MSA) announced the authenticity of only 935 objects from a large collection of 2,500 artefacts that had been stolen and hidden in a cave with book-shelf shaped doors inside a residential house on a private farm in the Abul Nomros area in Giza.

The objects were seized by the police who raided the house during a recent security campaign.

The objects include a large collection of Ancient Egyptian false doors, figurines, faience eyes, limestone statues of Ancient Egyptian deities, gilded funerary masks, clay pots and canopic jars and purification basins from the Late Pharaonic period.

A collection of 12 Fayoum portraits from the Coptic period were also found among the stolen objects, as well as painted porcelain vases from the Islamic era and coins from the Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic periods.

Two automatic guns along with 150 bullets were found with the artefacts.

MSA minister Mohammed Ibrahim told the Weekly that the weapons found with the large collection of stolen artefacts proved that they derived from illegal excavations at different archaeological sites in the country by an armed gang intending to smuggle them out of Egypt and sell them on the international market.

He highlighted the efforts made by the tourism and antiquities police to catch this gang and recover the objects before they could be smuggled abroad.

This is not the first smuggling attempt that the MSA has successfully halted, since it also managed to stop the sale of 139 objects that had been put up for sale on the Website ebay in the USA.

The objects were among 1,000 others put up for sale on the ebay site, but they were the only ones whose authenticity had been proved by the MSA.

Ebay has agreed to stop the sale of 139 of the 160 objects pointed to by the Egyptian authorities, as these had no legal provenance. The other 21 have legal ownership documents.

The restitution of the 139 objects is expected soon.

Ali Ahmed, director of the antiquities recuperation section at the MSA, said that the ministry was now reviewing the ownership documents provided by ebay concerning the other 21 artefacts in order to ensure their legitimacy.

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