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Egypt recovers smuggled ancient artefact discovered in London auction

Stone relief bearing cartouche of Pharaoh Amenhotep I was stolen from open air museum in 1988

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 09 January 2019 10:48 GMT
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The lost relief with cartouche of King Amonhotep I was stolen in 1988 and found on display at a London auction house last year
The lost relief with cartouche of King Amonhotep I was stolen in 1988 and found on display at a London auction house last year (AP)

Egypt says an ancient artefact has been returned after it was illegally smuggled out of the country to the UK, where it was found on sale.

The artefact is a carved stone tablet with the cartouche (royal emblem) of King Amenhotep I, who reigned from 1526 to 1506 BC.

According to Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry in Cairo, the carved relief had been found for sale at a London auction house.

The item had originally been on display at the open-air museum in the Karnak Temple Complex in the city of Luxor, but was stolen in 1988.

The ministry did not say how the artefact was originally smuggled out of the country.

The statement on the Antiquities Ministry’s website thanked “the concerted efforts of all the concerned British authorities and the Egyptian Embassy in London until it succeeded in stopping the sale of the piece”, when it was found in September 2018.

Egypt has stepped up efforts in recent years to stop the trafficking of its antiquities.

It has warned foreign museums that it will not help them mount exhibits about ancient Egypt unless they return smuggled artefacts.

In November, two ancient Egyptian sarcophaguses were found in Luxor by a French archaeological team.

Egyptian authorities opened one, while the French team which found them opened the other.

It was the first time a previously unopened sarcophagus was opened before international media.

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The well-preserved 3,000-year-old remains of a woman were found inside.

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