Egypt to repatriate 8 artifacts smuggled to Switzerland: minister
CAIRO: Egypt is working on repatriating a set of eight ancient artifacts that were smuggled to Switzerland following the 2011 uprising, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al Damaty announced Saturday.
The artifacts in question span several eras of the ancient Egyptian history and were illegally excavated from several archaeological sites across Egypt, said Damaty.
"These artifacts were monitored during a routine search of international auction halls periodically carried out by members of the ministry," Head of the Restored Antiquities Department Ali Ahmad said in a statement Saturday.
One of items, dating back to Egypt's Greco-Roman era, is among other artifacts looted from the Temple of Behbit Al-Hegara, said Ahmed. "The artifact is registered in the Egyptian antiquities' records, which will facilitate the ministry's mission to repatriate it," he added.
During the past few years, Egypt has taken legal actions to restore dozens of artifacts smuggled amid the rising illicit digging activities carried out in several Egyptian archaeological sites following the 2011 uprising.
The other artifacts include a Late-Period funerary limestone fragment, a Pre Dynastic pot, an old Kingdom stone block, a female wooden statue that dates back to the 6th Dynasty, a Greek statue, and finally two coffins also from the Greek Era, said Ahmed.
It is estimated that around $3 billion in Egyptian antiquities have been looted since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and the consequent security lapse across Egypt, according to the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities, a U.S.-based initiative partnered with Egypt's Antiquities Ministry.
During the past four years, Egypt has recovered over 1,600 artifacts and is currently working on other cases in many European countries, former Ministry of Antiquities Museums Sector head Ahmed Sharaf previously told The Cairo Post.
"It is impossible to provide an accurate number of the artifacts that have been stolen since the January 25 Revolution," he said.