The Antiquities Seizures Unit at Cairo International Airport says it has foiled an attempt to smuggle a collection of 11 Graeco-Roman artefacts out of Cairo International Airport when the Tourism and Antiquities Police arrested an Egyptian man at the customs section (Nevine El-Aref , 'Cairo Airport Authorities foil smuggling attempt', Al-Ahram Thursday 16 Aug 2012).
The man claimed to be carrying replicas from Khan El-Khalili bazars. The pieces he was carried were reportedly stolen from an as yet unidentified archaeological site in Egypt. The archaeological unite at the airport inspected the objects and approved their authenticity. The man has been arrested and the objects confiscated and taken to the Egyptian museum for inspection in order to ascertain what site they came from.
It's a bit difficult making head or tail of what Mr Rasmi says. The photo is no help the photographer seems to have smeared his lunch over the lens before taking it. While is is difficult to make out the details, the fuzzy outlines do tend to suggest that the two figures on the left and the two on the right in the top row come from the same mould. Though fired differently they have the same white concretion on them. Coincidence, or the stock of a single producer? Is that a Silenus lamp second from right? and the big ugly thing on the bottom right looks like a FEC1 type here. It's difficult to be sure, but I would not be surprised to learn that when this batch of objects goes to the Museum it turns out that some of the objects are not in fact ancient.
Hassan Rasmi head of the Antiquities Seizures Unit told Ahram Online that the confiscated objects consist of Graeco-Roman artefacts of different sizes, shapes and materials among them a collection of Terracotta (burned clay) statuettes depicting ancient Egyptians and Roman (sic) deities such as Isis, Osiris, Horus and Aphrodite. Terracotta statuettes featuring a seated child holding a pot in his hand and a standing woman holding a child within her hand are also among the confiscated collection along with two painted clay lamps, three faience, copper amulets depicting the face of the ancient Egyptian god Bes.
This of course would by no means be the first time. Smugglers have no problems (one is almost tempted to say routinely) getting whole genuine authentically looted mummy cases out of the country, but a number of people have been stopped and detained for carrying a few small tourist fakes in the past year or so. What usually happens is a big fuss is made in the Egyptian media that something has been "saved' and then it goes quiet when presumably somebody behind the scenes says: "Ummm, actually chaps, what you've got here is...". It is interesting though that the text seems to be suggesting that they pounced on this guy because he was reportedly carrying objects said to be stolen from a site, in other words this was a tip-off (revenge?).
Maybe the objects could be properly photographed in the Museum so we can see them more clearly and if they are real looted items rejoice with the Egyptian people that they did not end up on the no-questions-asked market. Then we can ask why the looting is going on.