Israel to return ancient coffin lids to Egypt

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel will return to Egypt the lids of two ancient sarcophagi that had held mummies.

The coffin lids were confiscated in Jerusalem in April by the Israel Antiquities Authority, according to media reports.

The ancient decorated wooden covers, determined to be authentic and thousands of years old, were stolen from Egypt and smuggled first to Dubai and then to a European country before arriving in Israel. They were sawed in half to allow for their easy transport, causing irreparable damage to the ancient items.

They were discovered during a raid of antiques shops in the Old City of Jerusalem by inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery.

The coffin covers likely were brought to Israel in order to obtain authentication documentation that would allow them to be exported and sold abroad to the highest bidder. The documentation would have identified them as being discovered in Israel.

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