Cairo: Ancient Egyptian artifacts, smuggled out of the country more than three decades ago, will soon return home from Cyprus, an official at the Ministry of Antiquities said on Monday.
“The ministry has succeeded through diplomatic and legal efforts to prove that these pieces left Egypt illegally and reached Cyprus in 1986,” Shaaban Abdul Jawad, the director of the retrieved antiquities department, added in a press statement.
The items have already been handed over to the Egyptian embassy in Nicosia and will return to Cairo in the “next few days”, he said.
They include an alabaster vase carrying the name of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II and 13 amulets of different shapes and sizes including those of sacred emblems and statutes, Abdul Jawad added.
The retrieval announcement coincides with a current visit by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi to Cyprus.
“Recovery of these pieces comes as hard evidence that the Ministry of Antiquities spares no efforts in order to restore Egypt’s stolen and smuggled antiquities and protect its cultural possessions,” said Abdul Jawad.
Over recent years, Egypt has stepped up efforts to retrieve ancient Egyptian artifacts that had been smuggled from the country. The efforts come as Egypt is building a grand museum near the Giza Pyramids expected to showcase its wealth of antiquities.
Ancient antiquities are a key attraction in Egypt’s tourism industry that has been hard hit by the unrest that following the 2011 uprising.
In recent months, Egypt announced a string of archaeological discoveries in different parts of the country. In March, a colossal statue, depicting the 26th dynasty Pharaoh Pasmtik I, was unearthed in a Cairo district. A month later, eight mummies were found in a 3,500-year-old cemetery in Luxor in Upper Egypt.
Tourism, a main source of Egypt’s national income, has recently started to show signs of recovery.