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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Egypt to US: Return Pharoanic Coffin

afrol News, 23 March - Egyptian authorities are expected to make an official request to the United States government demanding the return of the Pharoanic wooden coffin which was allegedly smuggled out of the country over a century ago, the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt said in a statement.

The coffin, five foot long, which is believed to be more than 3,000 years old and belonged to Pharaoh Ames of the 21st Dynasty, which ruled from 931 - 1081 BC was reportedly stolen from a tomb in Luxor, an ancient pharaonic capital in southern Egypt.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt's Secretary General, Zahi Hawass, said the ornately decorated coffin was seized by customs officials in Miami last month, when an American, who bought it from a dealer in Spain, was unable to provide sufficient paperwork to prove ownership.“The council has sent documents to authorities in Miami proving that the coffin was taken out of Egypt illegally in 1884,” he said.

The Egyptian antiquities department has recovered 5,500 artefacts in the past six years that were smuggled out of the country, the statement said.

Egyptian government had formed a committee in 2007 to recover stolen antiques from its 5,000 year-old civilization that are sold at auctions and found in museums around the world.

Mr Hawass in 2003 demanded that the British Museum return the Rosetta Stone, the engravings Jean-Francois Champollion deciphered to break the code of hieroglyphics. The British Museum sent a replica to Egypt instead.

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