Ministry of Antiquities recovers ancient tablet – File Photo
CAIRO –15 March 2018: An Egyptian smuggled coffin lid, expertly concealed inside a sofa, was discovered earlier in March at the Kuwait Airways cargo terminal as officers scanned a shipment of office furniture that had come from Egypt.
Kuwaiti archaeology experts said that they are “almost certain” that a stone coffin lid,dating back to the Pharaohs era,was found within a sofa. A Kuwaiti official announced that they will communicate with the Egyptian officials regarding the smuggled coffin soon.
A team of specialists from Kuwait and Egypt will examine the artifact, according to Egyptian official sources. The antique is 170 centimeters long, looks like a statue with an elaborate headdress, and is carved in stone.
Sources from the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters of Kuwait (NCCAL) revealed that the antique will be sent back to Egypt if Egyptian experts agree with their findings, as a part of Kuwaiti efforts to face the illegal smuggling of antiquities from foreign countries.
A source at the Cairo International Airport confirmed the sofa was shipped from the airport by a certified and registered company. Airport authorities are investigating how the item made it through customs.
Many Egyptian antiquities were smuggled in the aftermath of Egypt's2011 revolution amid the security vacuum, while others were stolen during the unrest in 2013.
Egypt managed to retrieve over 500 artifacts from abroad in 2016, Director General of the Retrieved Antiquities Department of the Antiquities Ministry Shaaban Abdel Gawad stated.
By the end of 2017, Parliament’s Culture and Media Committee approved a bill on intensifying the penalty for smuggling antiquities to life imprisonment and a fine up to LE 10 million ($560,100).
The committee’s members, chaired by Osama Heikal, discussed the amendment of Article 41, proposed by the government’s bill regarding the alteration of the antiquities protection law. Minister of Antiquities MamdouhShahin attended the meeting.
The new Article 41 states, “Everyone who unlawfully smuggles an antiquity outside the republic or knowingly participates in such an act shall be liable to a life imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 1million and not more than LE 10million and antiquity, devices, equipment, machines and vehicles used in the smuggling operation shall be seized.”
Earlier before the amendments, Article 41 of the new Egyptian antiquities protection law stated that the punishment would be hard prison with a fine of not less than LE 100,000 and not more than LE 1million.