x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

US museum to return 19 treasures from King Tutankhamun's tomb to Egypt

Pieces were sent to New York in 1948 when the Metropolitan Museum closed its expedition house in Egypt, but should never have left that country, says museum director.

A bracelet inlay in the form of a sphinx made of lapis lazuli, one of the 19 pieces belonging to the treasure of Tutankhamun that the Metropolitan Museum of Art will return to Egypt. AFP PHOTO/HO/SUPREME COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES
A bracelet inlay in the form of a sphinx made of lapis lazuli, one of the 19 pieces belonging to the treasure of Tutankhamun that the Metropolitan Museum of Art will return to Egypt. AFP PHOTO/HO/SUPREME COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES

CAIRO // Nineteen artifacts taken from the tomb of Tutankhamun will be returned to Egypt tomorrow after more than half a century at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The trove includes a miniature bronze dog and a sphinx-shaped bracelet ornament, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement on Saturday.

The move is the result of an agreement between the two institutions last year to return the objects to Egypt. At the time, then-antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said the objects would become part of the permanent King Tutnkhamun collection at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which is under construction near the Giza pyramids and is scheduled to open next year.

Mr Hawass, once the most public face of Egyptian archaeology, was fired last month after criticism of his close ties to the former president, Hosni Mubarak, who was removed from office in February.

The antiquities authority said the pieces were sent to New York in 1948 when the Metropolitan Museum closed its expedition house in Egypt.

The decision to repatriate the objects came after an extensive examination of the validity of their origin.

Director Thomas Campbell said on the museum website: ""Because of precise legislation relating to that excavation, these objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the government of Egypt."

The British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, when it was common practice for archaeologists to keep some or all of their own findings.

Some of the pieces in this collection were handed down through a niece of Carter and his estate in Luxor, which he left entirely to the Metropolitan Museum.

King Tutankhamun is one of history's most famous pharaohs because archaeologists found his tomb full of glittering wealth of the rich 18th Dynasty (1569-1315 BC).

This year, DNA tests and CT scans on Tutankhamun's 3,300-year-old mummy confirmed that the pharaoh died of a broken leg complicated by malaria at the age of 19.