recently recovered ancient Egyptian artefact known as the “Green Coffin” was
returned on Monday from the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences in the United
States after it had been smuggled illegally outside of Egypt.
ceremony, which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was attended by
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and Minister of Tourism and
Antiquities Ahmed Issa.
anthropoid coffin lid belonged to a priest of Heracleopolis city, Ankh in Maat,
and dates from the Late Period (664-332 BC). The lid is almost three meters
long, carved in wood and decorated with columns of hieroglyphic texts that are colored
in gold. The portrait on the lid of the deceased’s face and ears are painted
green, a symbol of rebirth and resurrection in ancient Egypt.
to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office – which was responsible for seizing
and returning the artefact – the coffin lid was looted from the Abusir
necropolis, near Cairo, and trafficked into the US in 2008, where it was sold
to a private collector and eventually loaned to the Houston Museum of Natural
Sciences in 2013.
Consul General in Houston Hossam El-Qawish succeeded in recovering the coffin
lid, which was handed over to the consul in a repatriation ceremony last
September after an investigation that lasted for more than four years.
Monday’s ceremony, Minister Issa asserted that the process is part of Egypt’s
strenuous efforts to recover smuggled artefacts and antiquities through
cooperation between the ministries of tourism and antiquities and foreign
affairs and the concerned authorities in the United States.
General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that these
efforts started in 2019 when the country requested the US Attorney General’s
Office in Manhattan return a gilded coffin of Nedjem Ankh that was on display
at the Metropolitan Museum and is now on display at the National Museum of
Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, Cairo.
between the two sides succeeded in uncovering an international smuggling
network dealing in Egyptian antiquities, leading to the recovery last September
of six other pieces in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum, according to
Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, the general supervisor of the Administration of
Antiquities Repatriation at the Supreme Council of Antiquities.