Egypt announced Wednesday that it had retrieved some 5,000 ancient items from the United States, after years of negotiations to return what it said were fraudulently acquired items.
In a statement, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities confirmed the “arrival at Cairo airport of a large number of ancient Egyptian items which had been in the possession of the Museum of the Bible in Washington”.
The items, totalling nearly 5,000, mainly consisted of manuscripts, but also included funeral masks, parts of coffins and the heads of stone statues, said Chaabane Abdeljawad, an official quoted in the statement.
The items, which left Egypt in a fraudulent manner, would be placed in the Coptic Museum in Cairo, the statement added.
It was not clear how the items left Egypt illegally or ended up at the museum in Washington, but Egyptian authorities negotiated their return over several years.
Many treasured items were damaged, destroyed or illegally whisked out of the country during the popular uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
French lawmakers on Thursday approved the return of prized artefacts looted during colonial times to Benin and Senegal, completing the legislative process needed to give back the objects.
The trove includes a royal throne taken during a war in Benin and a sword once wielded by a 19th century sheikh in what is now Senegal.
Former colonial powers across Europe are facing intensifying demands to return stolen objects, with Britain often in the eye of the storm for the plundered artefacts that stuff its museum shelves.
Critics also rounded on Germany on Wednesday as it opened a refurbished museum in Berlin awash with items from Africa and Asia.
French President Emmanuel Macron is among several European leaders to have pledged to restore ownership of looted treasures — the country’s museums are home to tens of thousands of objects, mostly from Africa.
Thursday’s agreement flowed from Macron’s desire to “renew and deepen the partnership between France and the African continent”, said Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot.
Benin will receive 26 pieces of the Treasure of Behanzin that was looted in 1892, including the throne of King Glele — a centrepiece of some 70,000 African objects held at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris.
One of only three artefacts ever recovered from inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid has been found in a misplaced cigar tin in a Scottish university collection, academics revealed on Wednesday.
The fragment of cedar wood, which has been found to date back 5,000 years to the building of the pyramid at Giza, was first discovered in the late 19th century but had been missing for more than 70 years.
A record discovered in 2001 appeared to show the fragment — found alongside a ball and a bronze hook thought to be used for construction — had been donated to the University of Aberdeen.
But the trail ran cold and the ancient artefact disappeared almost without a trace until the end of last year when an assistant curator at the university, Abeer Eladany, originally from Egypt, made a chance discovery in its Asia collection.
Knowing that a small cigar tin she found there bearing an old Egyptian flag did not belong with the other pieces, she cross-referenced it with other records.
“It has been like finding a needle in a haystack,” Eladany said after discovering the fragment of wood among hundreds of thousands of items.
“I’m an archaeologist and have worked on digs in Egypt but I never imagined it would be here in northeast Scotland that I’d find something so important to the heritage of my own country.”
The fragment — initially measuring five inches or around 13 centimetres but now in several pieces — was first discovered in the Great Pyramid’s Queen’s Chamber in 1872 by engineer Waynman Dixon.
It made its way to the Scottish city because of a link between Dixon and a medical doctor named James Grant who studied in Aberdeen and went to Egypt to treat cholera in the mid-1860s.
More evidence that the lost piece of wood, as well as the other items known as the “Dixon relics”, could have been used in the construction of the Great Pyramid has come to light following modern tests on the artefact.
Carbon dating results, delayed by coronavirus restrictions, placed the wood at somewhere between 3341 and 3094 BC, long before the construction of the pyramid.
This supports the theory the items were left behind by builders rather than by later explorers.
Neil Curtis, head of museums and special collections at the University of Aberdeen, called results from the carbon dating a “revelation”.
“This discovery will certainly reignite interest in the Dixon relics and how they can shed light on the Great Pyramid,” he added.
The Federal Government has called on European nations in possession of over 3000 artworks believed to have been stolen by British expedition’s personnel during the Benin invasion to return them particularly as the nation prepares to celebrate its centennial anniversary.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Edem Duke, made the call at a meeting of Nigerian officials and European museum representatives over the Benin bronzes in European museums.
Countries like Germany, Denmark, Italy, and the United States of America had at various times returned artefacts to their original owners and expressed optimism that Britain would also do same to Nigeria.
In preparation for the country’s centennial anniversary celebration, the Federal Government has embarked on a search for some of the nation’s lost treasures.
The Federal Government has called on European Nations in possession of over 3000 artworks believed to have been stolen by British expedition personnel during the Benin invasion to return them particularly as the nation prepares to celebrate its centennial anniversary.
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Mr. Edem Duke, made the call on Tuesday at a meeting of Nigerian officials and European Museum Representatives over the Benin Bronzes in European museums.
Duke said countries like Germany, Denmark, Italy, and the United States of America had at various times returned artefacts to their original owners and expressed optimism that Britain would also do same to Nigeria.