Antiquities Authority inspectors recently seized two rare ancient Egyptian
sarcophagus covers in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The antiquities experts have
confirmed the covers as authentic, dating one to the Late Bronze Age (16th- 14th
centuries BCE) and the other to the Iron Age (10th-8th centuries
The wood-and-plaster covers, each two meters long, were found for
sale in a storefront in the Old City marketplace. They are being held in
climate-controlled conditions in an Antiquities Authority laboratory in
Jerusalem. The location and condition of the rest of the sarcophagi and the
mummies they contained remain unclear.
The Antiquities Authority said it
suspects the sarcophagus covers were plundered from tombs in Egypt’s Western
Desert and from there transferred to Dubai and Europe before making their way to
Jerusalem. The covers are split in two – evidence, researchers say, that they
had been modified to facilitate smuggling.
Shai Bar-Tura of the
Antiquities Authority’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery said that
starting April 20, Israel will only allow the import of antiquities certified to
have been legally exported from their country of origin.
regulation will provide us with the tools needed in order to prevent the
importation into the country of antiquities that were stolen or plundered in
other countries, thus enabling us to thwart the international cycle of robbery
and trade in stolen archeological artifacts,” he said.
Egypt has asked
for the artifacts’ repatriation, and officials from the Antiquities Authority,
Israel Police and Foreign Ministry are examining the request.