500+ ancient Egyptian artifacts repatriated, 5,000 seized in 2015: statement
CAIRO: More than 500 ancient Egyptian artifacts have been repatriated from several countries in 2015, The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced in a statement Tuesday.
Spanning several periods of the ancient Egyptian history, the repatriated artifacts will be on display at an exhibit scheduled to open at the Egyptian Museum in January 2016, according to the statement published on the ministry's Facebook page.
Among the most significant artifacts repatriated in 2015 is a 2,300 year-old sarcophagus recovered through "Operation Mummy's Curse;" a five-year investigation carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world," according to ICE.
The ministry also announced that officials at the archaeological units at the Egyptian ports and airports were able to foil several attempts to smuggle over 5,000 artifacts in 2015.
Among the smuggling attempts thwarted in 2015 is one carried out by officials at the archaeological unit at Damietta port, who seized 1,124 artifacts heading for Thailand in November 2015.
"The smuggling attempt occurred through an import-export company which hid the seized artifacts inside wooden parcels filled with toilet paper," said Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty.
Egypt's political turmoil since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and its consequent security lapse left the country's cultural heritage vulnerable to looting.
During the past four years, Egypt has recovered more than 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, head of the Repatriated Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed told The Cairo Post.