CAIRO – 27 January 2021: A large group of Egyptian artifacts that were in the possession of the Holy Bible Museum in Washington, USA, arrived at Cairo International Airport on January 27, as a result of the great efforts exerted by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the concerned American authorities.
General Supervisor of the Retrieved Antiquities Department Shaaban Abdel Gawad stated that the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities succeeded in retrieving those pieces after hard work that began in 2016, along with the concerned American authorities, demanding the repatriation of those pieces that were smuggled out of Egypt illegally.
Negotiations between officials of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and officials of the Holy Bible Museum resumed for two years, in coordination with the US Department of Homeland Security.
The negotiations ended with an agreement that the museum would return all Egyptian artifacts in its possession to the Egyptian government.
Shaaban Abdel-Gawad indicated that the collection includes nearly 5,000 manuscripts and pieces of papyrus, texts in the Coptic language written on them, in addition to hieratic and demotic script and the Greek texts.
There are also manuscripts of Christian religious prayers written in Arabic and Coptic together or Arabic only.
This is in addition to a number of cartonnage funerary masks, parts of coffins, heads of stone statues and a group of portraits of the deceased. The pieces will be placed in the Coptic Museum in Egypt.
Head of the central administration of the Antiquities Registration Center Hisham al-Laithi confirmed that the repatriated pieces were not officially stored in museums or archaeological stores of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, but rather were smuggled as a result of illegal excavation.
Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, the US ambassador in Cairo, expressed the happiness of the United States in returning these artifacts to Egypt, saying: “The United States is pleased to return these artifacts to Egypt as part of the joint cooperation between the two countries in the field of protecting Egypt's rich cultural heritage, and we look forward to continuing this cooperation in the future".