MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s antiquities authority said Wednesday it had returned a 4,000-year-old statue to Egypt five years after it was first detected by customs agents.
The National Institute of Archaeology and History (INAH) said the "invaluable" 15-centimeter (six-inch) statuette was carved in southern Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, which ruled the Nile from 2055 BC to 1650 BC.
The artifact was smuggled out of the country before being discovered by customs agents in 2006 during a search of foreign packages.
But it took four years of research for the two countries to determine the "authenticity and illegal extraction of the object," the INAH said.
The statuette was presented to Egypt’s ambassador to Mexico Ibrahim Khairat at a ceremony on Tuesday, it said.