The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry announced on Saturday the location of five ancient Egyptian artefacts that were smuggled out of the country in 2002. The artefacts were stolen at the Saqqara necropolis, 25 klm south of the Giza pyramids.
According to Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, three of these objects are on display at the Fine Arts Museum in Budapest in Hungary. The other two are listed on the brochure of an auction hall in Paris, the minister said.
Ibrahim explained that the three artefacts in Budapest belong to the upper lintel of the temple of an Old Kingdom priest named Hunefer, who was a high priest during the reign of king Pepi I (from 2332 to 2283 BC). The lintel depicts the priest alongside hieroglyphic text. The temple came to light in 2001 in the Tabet Al-Geish area of Saqqara by a French archeological mission.
The Budapest Museum had bought the three objects from an auction house in 2002. The Museum was informed that the objects were bought in 1974. But, as Ibrahim asserted, excavation works at the Tabet Al-Geish area did not start before 2000, when the French mission began its excavation there.
Regarding the other two objects Ali Ahmed, the head of the antiquities recovery division of the Antiquities Ministry, said they are part of the western lintel of Hunefer’s chapel.
The Ministry is taking all legal procedures to return the objects to Egypt.