Egypt asks Interpol to locate a sculpture of Tutankhamun

Egypt asks Interpol to locate a sculpture of Tutankhamun

Egyptian history and heritage are not for sale. As a reminder, the Cairo authorities have asked Interpol to locate a sculpted portrait of the god Amon as the Tutankhamun child pharaoh, dating back 3,000 years. They want to locate the effigy, sold in London five days ago despite their opposition.

On July 4, auction house Christie's sold this 28.5 cm high brown quartzite head for more than 4.7 million pounds ($ 5.9 million, close to $ 5.3 million). ) to an unknown buyer, during one of his most controversial sales in recent years.

The Egyptian National Committee for the Repatriation of Antiquities (NCAR) declared, after an urgent meeting, that the Egyptian prosecutor's office had asked the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO, Interpol) "to issue a notice to locate" the mask. , because of the absence of the necessary documents at the time of the sale.

Prevent coins from leaving British soil

The committee, led by the Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Enany, called on London to prevent the pieces from leaving British soil until the required documents were presented to the Egyptian authorities. NCAR added that it hired a British law firm to bring a "civil lawsuit" without providing further details.

Before the sale, aware of the economic potential of its prodigious past, Egypt had expressed its anger: the former Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, had claimed that this room appeared to have been "stolen" in the 1970s in the complex of Karnak temple, north of Luxor. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs then asked its British counterpart and UNESCO to prevent the sale.

Christie's had argued that Egypt had never previously expressed concern about sculpture "although its existence is widely known and has been publicly exposed". As proof of its good faith, the auction house has published a chronology of how the relic has changed hands between European art dealers over the last 50 years.

Despite an extremely short reign – 9 years, between 9 and 19 years – Tutankhamun is one of the most famous pharaohs because of the incredibly preserved treasures discovered in his tomb in the 1920s by British archaeologist Howard Carter , and in particular this funeral mask in gold with troubled eyes and incredible sarcophagi, for which Egypt finishes building a gigantic museum in Cairo.

Top of about fifty centimeters, the funerary mask of Tutankhamun required more than 10 kg of gold and semi-precious stones. AFP / Mohamed el-Shahed
Top of about fifty centimeters, the funerary mask of Tutankhamun required more than 10 kg of gold and semi-precious stones. AFP / Mohamed el-Shahed
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