Egypt retrieved on Friday a collection of 195 artefacts, along with 21,660 coins, that were illegally smuggled to Italy last May, according to state-owned media outlet Ahram Online. The artefacts date back to various periods from ancient Egypt to the Islamic era.
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced last May that the Egyptian Embassy in Rome had been informed by the Italian authorities of the seizure of 23,700 artefacts, including 118 Egyptian pieces.
Local Italian reports stated in May that the artefacts were seized in a diplomatic bag at the international airport in May; however, no official statement was released regarding this in Egypt. It was not clear if the two shipments whether are the same or not.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the relics were returned in a short time, thanks to the Italian authorities—unlike the usual time spent in similar cases, which usually takes up to five years.
“The return of the artefacts was executed in an unprecedentedly short period after the Italian authorities reported the incident to the Egyptian counterparts,” Waziri told Ahram Online.
Waziri added that the restored relics will be displayed in a temporary exhibition, that will take place at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.
The seized artefacts caused a wide range of criticism on social media among Egyptian users.
Waziri told Ahram Online that once the Egyptian authorities were informed about the smuggled antiquities, former Antiquities Minister Khaled Anany formed an archaeological committee to take all the necessary requirements to retrieve the smuggled artefacts.
Meanwhile, last week, the Ministry of Antiquities announced that Egypt is to retrieve 91 smuggled artefacts from Israel, which date back to different ancient eras, after winning a case it filed last year.
Shabaan Abdel Gawad, head of the repatriation department at the Ministry of Antiquities, stated last week that Egypt has returned over 1,000 smuggled artefacts, from several countries in the past two years, including 586, that were returned last year.