Inspectors from the Israel Antiquities Authorities have recently appropriated two lids of egyptian sarcophagi that in the past, contained ancient mummies. The covers were confiscated by inspectors from the Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit while inspecting shops in the market square of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The ancient lids, which are made of wood and covered with a layer of plaster, are adorned with impressive decorations and hieroglyphic paintings of ancient Egyptians. The coffins were brought in for examination on the suspicion that they were stolen property.
After undergoing an expert examination, which includes the Carbon 14 test to find out the age of the wood, they determined that the objects were authentic and they were thousands of years old: one of them dates from the period between the 10th and 8th centuries BC (Iron age) and the other between 16th and 14th centuries BC (late Bronze Age).
Because they are foreign objects made of organic material, they will be guardedunder control of weather conditions in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authorities in Jerusalem. Wooden sarcophagi of this type have been found only in Egypt and it has been thanks to dry desert climate that prevails there.
It is suspected that egyptian antique thieves They looted ancient tombs in the Western Desert region of Egypt and then unknown people passed the covers smuggled from Egypt to Dubai, and from there they found a way to take them to Israel as a means of taking them to a third country in Europe.
The evidence that they have been smuggled is that they have divided the covers in two parts, what has caused irreparable damage in ancient objects. This is done to reduce the dimensions and easy concealment and transport in a standard size suitcase. Covers of this type normally cover sarcophagi made of palm wood 2 meters long, containing remains of a person's embalming. It is not known what happened to the mummies and sarcophagi.
The Israel Antiquities Authorities report that until recently,antique dealers and other entities have exploited loopholes why serious antiquities "cleaned" for them. These antiquities, which are alleged to have been looted from the Middle East and transported illegally, were imported into Israel by local antique dealers. In Israel, stolen antique objects always have documentation that allows them to be exported and sold to the highest bidder. During the buying and selling process, antique dealers may report that these antiques are of Israeli origin.
The regulation of the importation of antiquities from Israel has been recently modified. The new regulation, which will become effective at the end of April this year, requires a Customs declaration for importing antiques and a preliminary inspection of the items by the Israel Antiquities Authorities for the issuance of an import license.
The Israel Antiquities Authorities, in cooperation with the Tax and Customs Administration, prevent the importation of antiques into the country without proper documentation that indicate that they are illegally exported from their country of origin and significantly reduces the process of “antique wash" and the trade in stolen antiques in the Middle East.
According to Shai Bar-Tura, inspector in charge of overseeing the antiques trade on behalf of the IAA Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit, “from the 20th there will be a new reality in Israel's antiques trade. The new regulation will provide us with tools to prevent the importation into the country of stolen or smuggled antiquities into other countries, which allows us to counteract the international cycle of theft and the trade in stolen archaeological pieces.”.
The Israel Antiquities Authorities want to continue their efforts to preserve and protect valuable historical heritage of the State of Israel and help the international fight against the theft of antiquities in the Middle East.
Recently, the Egyptian authorities submitted a request asking that the covers of the stolen sarcophagi be returnees. The Egyptian request is being considered by the Israel Antiquities Authorities in cooperation with the Israeli Police and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the legality is being examined for to be able to return the objects to their country of origin.
With a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication, since I was a child I have been attracted to the world of information and audiovisual production. Passion for informing and being informed of what is happening in every corner of the planet. Likewise, I am pleased to be part of the creation of an audiovisual product that will later entertain or inform people. My interests include cinema, photography, the environment and, above all, history. I consider it essential to know the origin of things to know where we come from and where we are going. Special interest in curiosities, mysteries and anecdotal events in our history.