Egypt recovers smuggled ancient artefact from London auction

It is unclear how the tablet fragment made its way from the Temple of Karnak in Luxor to the UK.

Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities
The relief was originally exhibited at the open museum of the ancient temple of Karnak in the city of Luxor. [Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP]

Egypt has recovered an illegally smuggled artefact from an auction hall in London, Egyptian officials have said.

The archaeological item, which is part of a tablet containing hieroglyphs of the name of King Amenhotep I from the 18th dynasty, was retrieved following searches of international auction websites, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities said on Tuesday.

The Egyptian embassy in London received the artefact last September.

It is not clear how the tablet, previously exhibited at the open museum of the ancient Temple of Karnak in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, was smuggled out of the country.

The antiquities ministry worked with the Egyptian foreign ministry, Egypt’s embassy in London and British authorities to recover the section of the tablet, the ministry’s director-general, Shaaban Abdel Gawad, told the BBC.

The looting of ancient Egyptian artefacts spiked during a period of unrest following the 2011 uprisings, but Egypt has since stepped up efforts to stop the trafficking of its archaeological items.

Cairo warned foreign museums that it will not help them mount exhibits on ancient Egyptian sites unless they return smuggled artefacts.

Earlier this month, Egypt announced the only casing from the Pyramid of Giza to be displayed outside of Egypt would be going on show at the National Museum of Scotland from February 8.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies