Antiquity Ministry officials announced two developments on Sunday, including the recovery of a panel stolen from an ancient temple wall which had been smuggled to the United Kingdom, along with the discovery of other fragments of a temple compartment in the area of Matareya.
Both of these developments pertain to antiquities that date back well over 3,000 years to the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt (circa 1550-1077 BC).
According to a statement posted on the ministry’s official webpage, a panel was “successfully recovered” from the UK on Sunday as a result of diplomatic efforts on the part of the Egyptian Embassy in London, UK security officials and Interpol.
The panel had been cut out from a temple wall, stolen by treasure hunters and smuggled out by traffickers before it was found in the possession of a private collector from the UK and placed on display in the British Museum of London, the statement said. While the ministry claimed that the ancient artifact was recovered by the Egyptian Embassy in London, it also clarified that it has not yet been returned to Egypt, but is “due to be returned within the next few weeks.”
Ministry Director of Retrieved Artifacts Ali Ahmed said in the statement that the stolen fragment of the engraved temple wall is of “great significance,” as it was likely stolen from the Temple of King Seti I (reigned 1290 BC-1279 BC) in Assiut, which has not yet been unearthed.
This stolen fragment is reportedly made of limestone, measuring 43 x 67 cm, with painted bas-relief depictions of Seti I in the company of the bovine goddess Hathor and the canine deity Wepwawet.
On October 2, an ancient wooden statue dating back to the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom (circa 2345 BC-2181 BC) is reported to have arrived in Egypt after being recovered from France. The 33-cm-long statue shows a woman laying on her stomach with her arms extended forward, thought to be used as either a large spoon or a cosmetic tool for women.
Another statement issued by the Ministry of Antiquities on Sunday reported that a joint team of German and Egyptian archaeologists have discovered fragments of a temple compartment in the archaeological zone of Matareya and Ain Shams, located north of present-day Cairo.
These newly discovered temple fragments are part of a temple chamber dating back to the New Kingdom. The fragments are reportedly part of a structure dedicated to the King Nectanebo I (reigned 380 BC-362 BC).
The ministry’s statement indicated that further fragments of a statue belonging to an earlier king, Pharaoh Merneptah (reigned 1213 BC-1203 BC), were also found amid these ancient ruins.
Further studies are underway to piece together all these fragments around the Matareya archaeological zone zone, the statement concluded, in order to better understand its history.