After journeying from the Western Desert tombs of Egypt, through Dubai, Europe and Israel, two 3,000 year-old stolen artifacts are making their way home on Sunday.
The two wood and plaster sarcophagi lids, painted and carved with hieroglyphics, were given to Egyptian Ambassador Hazem Khairat on Sunday by Dore Gold, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a ceremony of solidarity between the two nations. For four years the relics were kept in climate-controlled storage by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
According to the IAA, the sarcophagi covers were stolen from Egyptian tombs in the Western Desert. From there, they were smuggled to Dubai, Europe and, finally, Jerusalem. In March 2012, IAA theft-prevention agents confiscated the stolen sarcophagi lids from a storefront marken in Jerusalem Old City market.
Carbon-14 dating revealed that the sarcophagi originated from different eras. The first is estimated to be 3,400 to 3,600 years old, dating to the late Bronze Age, and the second is 3,000 years old, originating from the Iron Age.
According to the Foreign Ministry, while Israel sought to return the artifacts immediately, bilateral communication was stalled repeatedly by the lack of an Israeli ambassador in Egypt.
Gold said that “it is hoped that the handing over of these ancient items will be a precursor for further bilateral cooperation in the field of historical heritage, as well as other fields of mutual interest to the benefit of both countries.”