Priceless Egyptian Treasures Returned

A statue of King Tutankhamun, which was looted during Egypt’s anti-government protests, has been returned to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo along with three other pharaonic artifacts, Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, announced today.Stolen when vandals and looters broke into the Cairo museum during the January revolution that brought down President Hosni Mubarak, the statue, cataloged as JE 60710.1, is one of three gilded wooden statues of King Tutankhamun that were declared missing in March (the official list of the items that were stolen from the Egyptian museum included a total of 63 objects).

Showing the boy king standing in a boat and throwing a harpoon, the statue suffered a minor damage.

“A small part of the crown is missing as well as pieces of the legs. The boat is still in the museum, and the figure of the king will be reunited with it and restored,” Hawass, who was named minister of antiquities last month, said in a statement.

Two other objects were returned to the Tutankhamun collection.

One is the pharaoh’s gilded bronze and wooden trumpet (JE 62008).

“It was received in excellent condition and will be put on display immediately,” Hawass said.

Also returned was a part of Tutankhamun’s fan. One face is in good condition, while the other has been broken into 11 pieces.

The fourth retrieved piece is a shabti statue cataloged as JE 68984. It is one of 10 missing shabtis belonging to the pharaonic couple Yuya and Tjuya, which recent DNA tests identified as King Tut’s great-grandparents.
One of the 10 missing shabtis of Yuya and Tjuya that was recovered. (Photo by Rania Galal)

“It is still in very good condition. It does not require restoration and will be placed on display again immediately,” Tarek El-Awady, director of the Egyptian Museum, said in a statement.

About 1,000 relics have been stolen from museums and archeological sites across Egypt since protests against the government began in January.

Hawass announced today that a special police force will be set up to protect sites and museums around the country.

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