Egypt receives 122 stolen artefacts from Australia

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After a decade of lying hidden in storehouses at auction halls in Melbourne, Australia, a collection of 122 ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman artefacts is to return to Egypt on 5 November. 

A papyrus showing goddess maat with open wings [Credit: AhramOnline]

An archaeological mission led by Ahmed Mostafa, director general of the Retrieved Antiquities Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), travelled early Friday to Melbourne to receive the items which are now at the Egyptian embassy in the city. 

Mostafa told Ahram Online over the telephone interview before leaving that the recovered objects were on show at the Mossgreen Auction hall’s catalogue. They vary from miniature amulets to larger bronze statues, are from the Neolithic and Greco-Roman eras, dating from about 146BC to 415AD. 

When the SCA found about the planned sale, Mostafa explains, it contacted the Egyptian embassy in Melbourne and, through diplomatic channels, Egypt managed to secure the collection. The objects were handed over to the Egyptian embassy in Melbourne. 

Among the most prized of the objects are a 26 dynasty bronze statue of the Apis Bull; a glass statue of Maat, the goddess of justice; a bronze statue of Osiris, the god of prosperity; and a Middle Kingdom lid from a canopic jar that belonged to one of Horus’ sons. 

Mostafa Amin, secretary-general of the SCA, promised that the collection will be exhibited in a special display at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. 

According to a statement from the Egyptian Embassy in Canberra, Australian officials uncovered the pieces after the embassy officially requested Australian authorities investigate the issue. 

Last year, Australia and Egypt celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of formal relations at diplomatic, archaeological and cultural levels. 

Author: Nevine El-Aref | Source: Ahram Online [October 28, 2011]

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