Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Egypt displays looted golden coffin after its return from the US

The artefact, which once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, was put on show in Cairo after its repatriation from the US

A 2,000-year-old golden coffin that was smuggled out of Egypt took its pride of place in a Cairo museum on Tuesday after it had been returned from the US.

American investigators had deemed the artefact, which arrived in the country from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art last week, a looted antiquity and ordered its repatriation.

The coffin once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, a priest in the Ptolemaic period.

It was put on display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.

Antiquities Minister Khaled Al Anany said the repatriation of this "unique, wonderful" artefact shows a "very strong solidarity" between Egypt and the US.

The Met bought it from a Paris art dealer in 2017 for about $4 million and made it the centerpiece of an exhibition.

However, the coffin was removed in February this year after proof of its theft was presented.

US Chargé d'Affaires Thomas Goldberger attended the display ceremony.

"We are delighted that this beautiful artefact is here in this museum in Egypt where it ought to be," he said.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the surface of the coffin was decorated with scenes and hieroglyphic texts, which were intended to guide the priest on his journey from death to the eternal afterlife.

The Met has apologised to Egypt. The museum's head Daniel Weiss said it was a fraud victim and unwitting participant in the illegal trade of antiquities.

US investigators determined that the coffin was smuggled from Egypt through the UAE, Germany and France.

They say the museum was given fraudulent documents, including a forged Egyptian export licence.

Updated: October 2, 2019 11:25 AM

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