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Israeli Authorities Seize Looted Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagi in Jerusalem’s Old City – UPDATED

April 3, 2012

Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi seized by Israeli authorities from a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City. By Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Aut.

Ancient Egyptian coffin lid seized by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Photo by: Israel Antiquities Authority

According to reports in The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, Israeli authorities seized two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi from a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Haaretz reports:

The wooden lids are coated with plaster and decorated with paintings and hieroglyphics; a carbon-dating examination by IAA [Israeli Antiquities Authority] officials determined that the artifacts were indeed authentic, with one dating to sometime between the 10th and the 8th centuries B.C.E. and the second to between the 16th and the 14th centuries B.C.E.

The report goes on to say:

It is estimated that the lids were smuggled from Egypt to Dubai and through another European country before arriving in Israel. In order to facilitate their smuggling, the lids were both sawed n half, causing them irreparable damage.

The lids were smuggled into Israel in order to procure an authentication certificate, which would then allow the dealers to sell them to collectors.

Following the seizure, the Egyptian government requested that the lids be returned to its possession, with talks geared at their return taking place.


Ahramonline reports (August 29, 2012) one of the lids will be returned to Egypt:

After almost one year of diplomatic negotiations, Israel has offered Egypt two pieces of a painted anthropoid coffin lid that belonged to an unidentified 16th Dynasty nobleman. The lid is expected to arrive in Cairo within two weeks after having been seized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) from a shop showroom in Jerusalem’s Old City in April of last year.

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