Retrieving 5,000 artifacts from the United States of America … and arriving at Cairo Airport

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A large group of Egyptian artifacts arrived at Cairo International Airport, which was in the possession of the “Holy Bible” Museum in Washington, USA, after the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the concerned American authorities to recover them.

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, General Supervisor of the Recovered Antiquities Department, explained that the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities had succeeded in retrieving those pieces after efforts that began in 2016, with the concerned American authorities to demand the recovery of those pieces that left Egypt illegally.

Negotiations between officials of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and officials of the Holy Bible Museum continued for two years, in coordination with the US Department of Homeland Security, as negotiations ended with an agreement that the museum would return all Egyptian artifacts in its possession to the Egyptian government.

Shaaban Abdel-Gawad pointed out that the collection includes approximately 5,000 manuscripts and pieces of papyrus, written on them texts in the Coptic language, hieratic and demotic script, and the Greek language, and there are also manuscripts of Christian religious prayers written in Arabic and Coptic together or Arabic only.

This is in addition to a number of cartonnage funerary masks, parts of coffins, heads of stone statues, and a group of portraits of the deceased. The pieces will be deposited in the Coptic Museum.

Dr. Hisham Al-Laithi, head of the central administration of the Antiquities Registration Center, confirmed that these recovered pieces are not from museums or archaeological stores of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, but rather as a result of surreptitious excavation.

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, the US ambassador in Cairo, expressed the happiness of the United States in returning these artifacts to Egypt, saying: “The United States is pleased to return these artifacts to Egypt within the framework of joint cooperation between the two countries in the field of protecting Egypt’s rich cultural heritage, and we look forward to continuing this cooperation. In the future”.

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