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Explainers - News around Africa - Profiles - September 26, 2019

US Returns Looted Ancient Egyptian Nedjemankh Gold Coffin

The US Metropolitan Museum of Art has returned looted treasure – the gold coffin of an ancient Egyptian high priest Nedjemankh.

The Nedjemankh gold coffin is stolen antiquity from ancient Egypt and was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in 2017.

District Attorney of New York County, New York Cyrus Vance Jr in a tweet disclosed that the coffin has been buried in Egypt for more than two thousand years.


The ancient relic, which was acquired and was featured in an exhibit of artefacts from ancient Egypt, is on its way back to Egypt after it was determined to be looted antiquity.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry held a repatriation ceremony in New York Wednesday to show off the glittering 2,100-year-old coffin of an ancient Egyptian priest called Nedjemankh (neh’-jeh-MAHNK’).

Vance told reporters that New Yorkers, who come from all over the world, are especially sensitive to preserving cultural heritage. He hailed the cooperation between New York prosecutors with Homeland Security investigators that led to the recovery and return of the coffin.

“Returning stolen cultural treasures to their countries of origin is at the core of our mission to stop the trafficking of stolen antiquities,” Vance said. “I am honoured to repatriate this extraordinary artefact back to the people of Egypt, and I thank my office’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit as well as our partners at HSI New York for their diligence in this investigation.”

Vance’s office said the coffin, made in Egypt between approximately 150 and 50 B.C.E., once held the remains of a high-ranking priest Nedjemankh. It was stolen from the Minya region of Egypt in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution in October 2011 and was then smuggled out of Egypt.

It was transported through the United Arab Emirates to Germany, where it was restored, and to France, where the Met bought the piece from a Paris art dealer in July 2017 for about $4 million. The museum was given fraudulent documents, including a forged 1971 Egyptian export license, prosecutors said.

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