The ceremony, which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa.
The anthropoid coffin lid belonged to a priest of Heracleopolis city, Ankh In Maat, and dates from the Late Period (664-332 BC).
The lid is almost three metres long, carved in wood and decorated with columns of hieroglyphic texts that are coloured in gold.
The portrait on the lid of the deceased’s face and ears are painted green, a symbol of rebirth and resurrection in ancient Egypt.
According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office – which was responsible for seizing and returning the artefact – the coffin lid was looted from the Abusir necropolis, near Cairo, and trafficked into the US in 2008, where it was sold to a private collector and eventually loaned to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences in 2013.
Egypt’s Consul General in Houston Hossam El-Qawish succeeded in recovering the coffin lid, which was handed over to the consul in a repatriation ceremony last September after an investigation that lasted for more than four years.
During Monday’s ceremony, Minister Issa asserted that the process is part of Egypt’s strenuous efforts to recover smuggled artefacts and antiquities through cooperation between the ministries of tourism and antiquities and foreign affairs and the concerned authorities in the United States.
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri said that these efforts started in 2019 when the country requested the US Attorney General’s Office in Manhattan return a gilded coffin of Nedjem Ankh that was on display at the Metropolitan Museum and is now on display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Fustat, Cairo.
Cooperation between the two sides succeeded in uncovering an international smuggling network dealing in Egyptian antiquities, leading to the recovery last September of six other pieces in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum, according to Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, the general supervisor of the Administration of Antiquities Repatriation at the Supreme Council of Antiquities.