Five Relief Fragments to be Returned to Egypt

The University of Tübingen in Germany, under the leadership of Dr. Christian Leitz, has voluntarily agreed to return to Egypt five relief fragments of the royal tomb of the 19th dynasty pharaoh Seti I. Culture minister Farouk Hosni announced today.

He added that these fragments will be handed over to Egypt next month (June) and it is one of the most beautiful fragments that once decorated the walls of Seti I tomb's which was subjected to mutual thefts along the last century when early travellers to Egypt hacked pieces out of the walls and now are in collections around the world.

On his part Dr. Zahi Hawass secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said that this achievement embodied the deep and strong diplomatic and cultural relation between Egypt and Germany and between the SCA and the Tübingen University. Similar gesture was made three years ago by the Michaeol C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, USA, which also returned a royal mummy believed to be that of Ramses I, father of Seti I.  

Tübingen’s action stands in stark contrast to the decision of the St. Louis Art Museum not to return the stolen mask of Ka-nefer-nefer to Egypt, despite the fact that the SCA has provided the director with documentary evidence that their provenance, which begins with the faulty assumption that the mask was given to its excavator as part of a (non-existent) division of finds, is wrong. The evidence shows clearly that the mask was duly registered as property of the Egyptian government in the 1950s, and was stolen sometime during or after 1959. In respond, Egypt have taken all legal procedures to recover such a mask. Through the prosecutor general Egypt filed a law suit against the SLAM at St. Louis court. It also contacted the International Interpol to help recovering the mask. Hawass also called all university students and school pupils in St. Louis to ban the SLAM as it house stolen artifacts.

The tomb of Seti I, once the most heavily visited tomb in the Valley, is currently closed to the public, to protect it from the hazards of unchecked tourism. As part of a conservation and restoration project, the SCA is attempting to collect as many of the scattered pieces of relief from the tomb as possible, so that they can be restored to their proper places. Tübingen’s generous decision is received with gratitude by the SCA.


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