CAIRO: A 3,000-year-old ornately painted coffin arrived back in Egypt on Saturday, 125 years after it was smuggled out the country, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said.
Hawass, who accompanied the casket home from the United States, told reporters negotiations to bring the ancient artifact home had taken a year and half.
The sarcophagus dates back to the 21st dynasty (1081-931 BC), a period for which we have relatively few antiquities, Hawass said, highlighting the rarity of such a piece.
The coffin, which is painted with inscriptions to help its occupant in the afterlife, was handed over to Hawass during a ceremony at the National Geographic Society in Washington on Wednesday.
It will be the centrepiece of an exhibition at the Egyptian Museum from April 7, Hawass said.
Egypt had asked the United States to return the wooden casket which contains the remains of a man named Emus, about whom little is known.
US Immigration and Customs had confiscated the coffin from a Spanish merchant who had shipped it to Florida for sale, but who had no papers proving ownership, Hawass said last week.
Egypt says it was originally smuggled out of the country in 1884. -AFP