Sunday 6 November 2011

Egypt: Antiquity Smuggling to Sudan?

Here is an interesting story from Egypt, apparently originating from the office of Hassan Rasmi (head of the Confiscation Department at the Supreme Council of Antiquities). Customs Police at the High Dam Port in the Upper Egypt city of Aswan near the Egypt-Sudanese border have seized a group of ancient Egyptian and Islamic artefacts. They apprehended a Sudanese traveller who was caught attempting to illegally smuggle seven wooden boxes full of artefacts out of the country (Nevine El-Aref, 'Antiquities smuggling attempt thwarted in Aswan', Al-Ahram, 3 Nov 2011):
The 50-year-old was arrested after policemen found that the boxes contained a wooden chair inlaid with ivory and pearls, clay and metal pots, as well as a number of statuettes and canopic jars. Investigations are underway to ascertain if the main was working alone or had colleagues in Egypt or abroad.
An archaeological committee travelled south overnight to inspect the collection and check its authenticity. If deemed authentic, the artefacts will be transferred to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo for restoration.

It would seem the would-be smuggler had intended to ship these objects south to Sudan (maybe Khartoum 1600 km south along the Nile) and thence to foreign markets. It will be interesting to learn where the canopic chest had come from.

[the photo accompanying the Al-Ahram article is clearly a stock photo- it shows mesopotamian objects]

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