Monday 14 October 2019

Egypt displays looted coffin returned from New York museum

The coffin once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, a priest in the Ptolemaic Period.

Journalists gather around the golden coffin that once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, a priest in the Ptolemaic Period some 2,000 years ago, at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, in Old Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Egypt is displaying the gilded ancient coffin returned to the country last week from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after U.S. investigators determined to be a looted antiquity. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Bakkar)
Journalists gather around the golden coffin that once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, a priest in the Ptolemaic Period some 2,000 years ago, at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, in Old Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Egypt is displaying the gilded ancient coffin returned to the country last week from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after U.S. investigators determined to be a looted antiquity. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Bakkar)

By Samy Magdy, Associated Press

Egypt has put on display a gilded ancient coffin from the first century BC, which New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art returned last week after US investigators determined it to be a looted antiquity.

The coffin once held the mummy of Nedjemankh, a priest in the Ptolemaic Period 2,000 years ago. It was put on display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Cairo.

Antiquities minister Khaled el-Anany said the repatriation of this “unique, wonderful” artefact shows a “very strong solidarity” between Egypt and the US.

The Met bought it from a Paris art dealer in 2017 for about 4 million dollars (£3.2 million) and made it the centrepiece of an exhibition. It was removed in February after proof of its theft was presented.

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Journalists gather around the golden coffin (Mahmoud Bakkar/AP)

Egyptian authorities proved the coffin’s export licence was “a false one” following a request from US authorities, Mr el-Anany said in his address.

US official Thomas Goldberger attended the display ceremony, saying: “We are delighted that this beautiful artefact is here in this museum in Egypt where it ought to be.”

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the surface of the coffin is elaborately decorated with scenes and hieroglyphic texts.

“The name of this coffin’s owner is written here, Nedjemankh, and his title is stated as well – priest. Most probably this coffin was discovered in middle Egypt,” he said.

The exact location would be clarified through further investigations, he added.

The Met has apologised to Egypt, say the museum itself was a fraud victim and unwitting participant in the illegal trade of antiquities.

PA Media

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