Swiss museum to return 4,000-year-old relic to Egypt

May 13th, 2011 - 5:46 am ICT by IANS  

Cairo, May 13 (IANS/AKI) Switzerland’s Museum of Basel would return to Egypt an upright limestone slab dating back over 4,000 years.

The 51 cm slab depicts a hunting scene and is from the Old Kingdom period (c.2649-2134 B.C.), the Supreme Council of Antiquities said in a statement.

Such slabs - also known as steles - are like vertical columns and typically bear commemorative inscriptions, and often serve as gravestones.

The Museum of Basel is returning the artefact to Egypt amid a repatriation campaign spearheaded by Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass.

One of Egypt’s most renowned archaeologists, Hawass became a minister earlier this year.

In 2002, while heading the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Hawass threatened to cut scientific and research ties with any museum, university or institution that held stolen Egyptian antiquities.

The Museum of Basel volunteered to give back the stele and has already sent back the eye of a colossal quartzite statue of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III (c.1390-1352 B.C.). The eye was found in 1970 at his funerary temple in Kom el-Hettan at Luxor, on the west bank of the Nile.

The eye had been smuggled out of the country, then loaned to the museum by a private collector where it was recognised by Egyptologist Hourig Sourouzian, and returned to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, in October 2008.

–IANS/AKI
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