Man held for trying to sell hair of pharaoh

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The Independent Online

A man has been arrested after an advert appeared on a French website offering to sell "locks of hair from the mummy of Ramses II".

The seller, a 50-year-old postman from the Grenoble area, whose name has not yet been released, placed the advertisement on vivastreet.fr, triggering a police investigation. He also claimed to be able to provide bandages and samples of the embalming fluid used to mummify Egypt's most celebrated pharaoh, along with photographs and certificates of authenticity.

"I am the only person in the world who possesses samples like these," he boasts, offering to sell batches of hair and other relics at up to €2,500 (£1,700) per lot.

The archaeological world has been shocked by the affair, which has been described as "a sacrilege". Christian LeBlanc, a French archaeologist and expert on Ramses II, said that the items, "might unfortunately be genuine". "If this is the case then it's an appalling and unacceptable scandal," he said.

Police seized several small plastic bags from the man's home, each containing minuscule samples of hair and small pieces of bandage. The seller claims to have obtained the relics from his father, who was part of a team of scientists which analysed the body of the pharaoh in the 1970s.

Ramses II, who ruled Egypt from 1291BC to 1225BC, is the only pharaoh to have posthumously left Egyptian soil. The mummy was shipped from Cairo to France in 1976 to tackle a fungus that was decaying the corpse, before it was returned to Egypt in 1977.

The seller is likely to be prosecuted for the concealment of stolen artefacts.

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