Director of Cyprus' Department of Antiquities, Marina Solomidou, handed over 14 artifacts to Egypt-Photo courtesy of Ministry of Antiquities official Facebook page Director of Cyprus' Department of Antiquities, Marina Solomidou, handed over 14 artifacts to Egypt-Photo courtesy of Ministry of Antiquities official Facebook page

Egypt restores 14 smuggled artifacts from Cyprus

Wed, May. 2, 2018
CAIRO - 2 May 2018: Director of Cyprus' Department of Antiquities, Marina Solomidou, handed over 14 artifacts to Egypt on Tuesday; the artifacts were stolen and illegally smuggled from Egypt in the late 1980s.

This came on the sidelines of the initiative entitled “Nostos: Reviving Roots,” which was launched by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and his Cypriot and Greek counterparts in Alexandria on Monday.

In this regard, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani expressed his thanks to the Cypriot authorities for their continuous cooperation with Egypt to restore these artifacts.

In the same context, Director General of the Retrieved Antiquities Department of the Antiquities Ministry Shaaban Abdel Gawad stated that the process of repatriation began in 2017 when Interpol conversed with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

Abdel Gawad revealed that these artifacts date back to the ancient Egyptian era. They were smuggled after the Antiquities Protection Law had been issued in 1983, and arrived in Cyprus in 1986.

He further remarked that the Ministry of Antiquities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice and the International Cooperation Office coordinated to send urgent letters to Cyprus, stressing Egypt’s right to retrieve the artifacts, especially considering that the Cypriot law allows for antiquities trafficking.

Abdel Gawad said that the restored pieces comprise of an alabaster vase decorated with the name of king Ramses II, in addition to 13 ushabti figurines and amulets of different shapes, sizes and materials, including amulets for goddesses Sekhmet, Neith and Isis.

Upon invitation from the Cypriot authorities, Abdel Gawad travelled to Cyprus to inspect these pieces, which were kept at the Cypriot antiquities museum in Nicosia. Gawad delivered a lecture highlighting the efforts exerted by the Ministry of Antiquities to restore the smuggled artifacts and to make new archaeological discoveries in Egypt.

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Director of Cyprus' Department of Antiquities, Marina Solomidou, handed over 14 artifacts to Egypt-Photo courtesy of Ministry of Antiquities official Facebook page

“Nostos: Reviving Roots” initiative is a cultural festival, which is scheduled to be held from April 30 to May 6 in Alexandria, Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh.

The festival will give the opportunity for Greeks and Cypriots, who once lived in Alexandria, to participate in this event, returning to their old homes and reviving their memories.

Sisi said on Monday that the ancient city of Alexandria has a special place in the hearts of Egyptians, as well as the people of the Mediterranean region. He expressed his great pleasure for hosting this celebration in Alexandria.

Sisi said that Alexandria has been witness to the deep ties binding the people of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus throughout ancient and modern history. He noted that Alexander the Great laid the first pillars of the city of Alexandria in 332 BC, establishing a point of convergence of civilizations and an incubator of cultures and heritage on the Egyptian Mediterranean shores.

"Alexandria remains an embodiment of the values of tolerance, coexistence and human communication. These values encouraged hundreds of thousands of people in the region to choose to live in Egypt, where they were embraced without discrimination," he added.

Thousands of Greeks and Cypriots were among those who chose to live in Egypt, where they integrated into the Egyptian fabric, the president said, adding that they were a major addition to the economic, scientific and cultural movements in Egypt.

The Greeks and Cypriots, together with their Egyptian brothers, contributed to the renaissance of trade, culture and art and worked to promote various aspects of economic life, Sisi said, remarking that Egypt witnessed the establishment of organizations for the Greek communities in many governorates, including Minya in 1812, Zagazig in 1850, Cairo in 1856, Mansoura in 1860 and Port Said in 1870.
 
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