Pharaonic Limestone Tablet Returned to Egypt after 60 Years
Nearly six decades after it was smuggled out of the country, Egyptian officials brought home a Pharaonic limestone tablet that had been on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, reported the Associated Press on Monday.
The Metropolitan Museum presented it to the Egyptian Embassy in New York in April. Mahmoud Allam, Egypt's consul-general in New York, accompanied the tablet back to Cairo on Saturday.
"This is an achievement for Egypt. I was overjoyed when I received the tablet in New York," Allam was quoted as telling reporters at the airport. "The Met played an important role in retrieving it."
The tablet portrays the wife of King Seti I breast-feeding her newborn child. Engraved under the carved drawing is the word "milk" and the name of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Seti I in hieroglyphics, the ancient Egyptian language, said the agency.
The Metropolitan Museum acquired the tablet, which is 18 inches high and 12 inches wide, from the private collection of a man who said he inherited it from his father, according to Allam.
The tablet was stolen from a temple in Mit Rahina, a town in Giza south of the capital Cairo, said Gaballah Ali Gaballah, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. The remains of the temple of Seti I were uncovered in Mit Rahina some 60 years ago.
"Egypt will continue its efforts in cooperation with all international organizations to retrieve its antiquities abroad," Gaballah told the agency.
Egypt has been doing well lately in recovering its treasures.
In late July, the 3,000-year-old sculpted head of a statue of an Egyptian queen was returned after being smuggled to Britain almost a decade ago.
The BBC said that the life-sized stone head -- believed to depict Queen Nefertari, the principal wife of Pharaoh Ramses II -- was returned along with six pieces of papyrus scrolls from the later Greco-Roman period.
The sculpture was stolen in 1992 from its storage place in Sakkara, a village 25 km south of Cairo, in what officials described as one of the country's biggest antiquities smuggling cases.
In 1995, a joint British and Egyptian investigation broke the smuggling ring and arrested fifteen people.
Earlier in July, a US court indicted an American antiquities dealer on charges of trading in stolen Egyptian artifacts, including the head of the Montahotep Statue, which he reportedly sold for $1.2 million.
The federal court in New York also accused Fredrick Sholtz, who owns a showroom for art and Oriental collectibles, of attempting to sell another ancient Egyptian statue for $825,000 – Albawaba.com
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