Thursday 16 April 2015

Relief Nicked from Karnak Returned

Ministry loses the stone,
manages to keep the picture (MnAnt)
A statement by Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty on Thursday concerned an 18th dynasty pillar fragment from Karnak temple with part of a relief of Amon Re standing receiving offerings from pharaoh Tuthmosis IV will return to Egypt in the next few days. The object had been illegally smuggled to London
Chairman of Egypt’s Restored Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed told The Cairo Post that Damaty’s announcement came “after the British citizen, who possesses the fragment, contacted the Egyptian Embassy in London he decided voluntarily to return it back to the Egyptian authorities after he found out it was original and was illegally smuggled.”[...] the limestone fragment is registered in the antiquities ministry’s archive [...] the date when the artifact was stolen remain unknown.
So the Brit thought he was buying a fake, but was surprised to find out is was an original?

Rany Mostafa, 'Briton gives up 3,300 year-old ancient Egyptian artifact', Cairo Post Apr. 16, 2015

UPDATE  6th July 2015

In a piece in Ahram online (Nevine El-Aref,'A part of Tutmosis Karnak column arrives home from London', 5th July 2015) we learn that this piece of a column "was stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country many years ago", but then adds the information that:
The piece was in the gallery of Karnak that was subjected to looting in the aftermath of January 2011 revolution. The piece is registered in the Ministry of Antiquities official documents [...]. It is 36cm wide and 29cm tall. Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty explained that the piece was in the possession in a British citizen who bought it from the market without knowing that it was a stolen piece. Upon his knowledge, the British citizen agreed to return the piece back to Egypt.
That is interesting, because there was no report of any raid on any storeroom at the time of the 2011 'revolution', indeed all the reports at the time indicated that there had been no trouble near these sites, most of it was further north. Was the information about this raid suppressed at the time (Dr Hawass?) or is it a fictional one made-up to explain a theft which took place under different circumstances?

The name of the dealer from whom he bought it is not given in either article.

The "Hall" it came from is presumably the sandstone-built chapel and peristyle hall built against the back or eastern walls of the main Karnak temple building, accessible to those who had no right of access to the main and serving as a 'place of the ear' for the god Amun where the god could hear the prayers of the townspeople.
The piece is to be sent to the restoration lab of the Egyptian museum for inspection and restoration before returning it to its original position in Karnak.

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