US returns 2700 year old sarcophagus stolen from Egypt

US returns 2,700 year old sarcophagus stolen from Egypt

In a decade, Cairo has recovered over 29,000 stolen antiques, and this is not the smallest. One of the largest wooden pharaonic sarcophagi ever discovered, illegally shipped from Egypt and until recently displayed in an American museum, was returned to Cairo on Monday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said.

“There are two types of sarcophagi: those of royal remains and those of nobles, this one belonged to a nobleman,” said Mostafa Waziri, director of the Supreme Antiquities Council.

2,700 years old

The 2.94 meter long and 90 centimeter wide sarcophagus with a green painted front dates from the late Pharaonic period almost 2,700 years ago and was discovered in central Egypt.

Egypt has announced several major discoveries in recent months, mainly at the Saqqara necropolis, south of Cairo. It unveiled more than 300 sarcophagi and 150 bronze statues in 2021 and 2022, many of which are more than 3,000 years old.

An asset to tourism

The country is counting on these new discoveries to revive tourism, which has been badly hit by Covid-19. This sector, which employs two million people and generates more than 10% of GDP, has been running at half-staff since the 2011 Arab Spring.

The Egyptian authorities have been promising for months that their “Great Egyptian Museum” near the Giza Plateau will open soon, without yet having a date for its inauguration. Many predicted this to happen in 2022, the 200th anniversary of the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone by Frenchman Jean-Fran├žois Champollion and the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of the child Pharaoh Tutankhamun.