One of the seized artifacts – Press photo/Antiquities Ministry
CAIRO – 25 May 2018: Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry’s Repatriation Department, said that the 118 Egyptian artifacts seized last March in Naples, Italy, are likely to be found during Illegal excavations.
Abdel-Gawad added in statements to the Associated Press on Friday that Egypt is expecting to receive the artifacts as soon as possible, shortly after ongoing investigation by Italian authorities are finished.
On May 23, the Ministry of Antiquities announced in statement that the preliminary examination of the 118 Egyptian artifacts seized last March in Naples, along with artifacts from other countries, suggested that the seized pieces are historic antiquities.
The Italian police notified the Egyptian Embassy in Rome on March 14 about the seizure of 23,700 artifacts, including 118 Egyptian pieces packed in parcels, according to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.
Abdel-Gawad said then that examination of the seized artifacts' photos sent by the Italian authorities suggested they are authentic antiquities, adding that the two countries cooperate to return the seized pieces to Egypt.
The seized artifacts include objects from different pharaonic periods, in addition to objects from the Islamic era, according to a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
Many Egyptian antiquities were smuggled in the aftermath of Egypt's 2011 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, Abdel Gawad previously stated.
Parliament's Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee prepared a report earlier in 2018 on an amendment to the antiquities protection law proposed by the government to toughen punishment for smuggling antiquities up to a life sentence and a fine up to LE 10 million (about $0.56 million).