Egypt’s Embassy in Canada has successfully retrieved a stolen bronze artefact of the Ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet.
The hand-over occurred in a ceremony at the Egyptian Embassy, which took place in the presence of senior officials from Canada’s Ministries of Heritage, and Foreign Affairs.
Egypt’s Ambassador to Canada Ahmed Abu Zeid noted that the recovery of the artefact was the result of joint efforts and close cooperation between the embassy and Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities on the one hand, and the relevant Canadian authorities on the other hand.
He said that the cooperation between the two sides continued for several months to verify the antiquity of the recovered piece. It had been seized by the Canadian Border Services Agency, and was taken for verification of the legality of its exit from Egypt.
Abu Zeid also highlighted Egyptian institutions’ keenness to preserve the country’s heritage and cultural history. He pointed to the recent success of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ efforts, in cooperation with Egypt’s diplomatic missions abroad, in retrieving ancient artefacts from many countries of the world recently.
The ambassador praised the distinguished relations that unite Egypt and Canada, which contributed to the successful efforts to recover that important piece.
Deputy Minister of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Hélène Laurendeau, expressed her happiness to participate in the handover ceremony of the artefact.
Laurendeau stressed the Canadian government’s keenness to return it to the Egyptian authorities, in compliance with the UNESCO Treaty on Ways to Prevent Illicit Trafficking, Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property, signed by the two countries.
At the end of the ceremony, Abu Zeid received a certificate signed by Laurendeau to return the artefact to the Egyptian government.
Mostafa Waziri, Secretary-General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, participated in the ceremony via video link, and presented a speech in which he talked about the artefact and its historical background.
Waziri thanked the Canadian government for its keenness to return the Egyptian piece in an unprecedented move from the Canadian side.
He invited Canadian tourists to visit Egypt and its archaeological sites, including the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which he described as Egypt’s gift to the world in the 21st Century.
It is known that the retrieved artefact symbolises the Ancient Egyptian goddess Bastet, the daughter of the sun god Ra, who was depicted in drawings in the form of a woman with a cat’s head.
Bastet is considered a symbol of tenderness and gentleness. Thousands of mummified cats have been found across Egypt, indicating the importance of the cat for the Ancient Egyptians.
Experts say statues made of bronze or wood such as the one returned from Canada were often left at temples to Bastet as an offering to the gods. It is believed the statue returning from Canada was created sometime between 323 and 330 BCE, making it over 2,300 years old.