3,400-Year-Old Artifact of King Ramses II Returned to Egypt from Switzerland

Egypt reclaims 3,400-year-old stolen Ramses II statue from Switzerland, highlighting international cooperation to combat illicit antiquities trade and repatriate cultural treasures.

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3,400-Year-Old Artifact of King Ramses II Returned to Egypt from Switzerland

3,400-Year-Old Artifact of King Ramses II Returned to Egypt from Switzerland

In a significant victory for Egypt's efforts to recover its stolen antiquities, the Egyptian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, successfully retrieved a unique 3,400-year-old artifact.

The artifact, a detached part of a collective statue depicting King Ramses II, was handed over by the director of the Swiss Federal Cultural Office to the Egyptian Ambassador Wael Gad.

The artifact was originally stolen from Ramses II's temple in Abydos, Egypt, more than three decades ago, sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Egyptian authorities first spotted the artifact when it was offered for sale at an exhibition in London in 2013. It had moved to several other countries before reaching Switzerland.

Egypt collaborated with Swiss authorities to establish its rightful ownership of the artifact. The recovery process involved the cooperation of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International Cooperation Administration of the Attorney General's Office, and Swiss authorities. The repatriation marks a joint effort between Switzerland and Egypt to combat the illicit trade in cultural property, as outlined in their cooperation agreement.

The recovered artifact is part of a group of statues depicting King Ramses II, one of ancient Egypt's most powerful pharaohs, seated alongside various Egyptian deities. Upon its return, the artifact was entrusted to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to undergo necessary restoration and preservation work. It is not currently on display at the museum.

Why this matters: The successful retrieval of this rare artifact underscores Egypt's unwavering commitment to safeguarding its rich historical heritage and cultural treasures. It also highlights the importance of international cooperation in combating the illegal trafficking of antiquities and facilitating their return to their rightful countries of origin.

The fruitful collaboration between Egypt and the Swiss Federal Office of Culture has yielded numerous ancient Egyptian relics finding their way to the embassy in Bern since August 2021. These include a smuggled ancient Egyptian statue depicting the goddess Isis cradling Horus the Child, a segment of an alabaster statue of a woman, a stone sphinx statue, and a cylindrical alabaster vase. "The recovery of the artifact was the result of coordinated efforts between the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Swiss authorities, who were able to substantiate Egypt's rightful ownership of the artifact and confirm its illegal departure from the country," stated a spokesperson from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Key Takeaways

  • Egypt recovered a 3,400-year-old stolen Ramses II statue part from Switzerland.
  • The artifact was originally stolen from Abydos, Egypt, in the late 1980s/90s.
  • Egypt collaborated with Swiss authorities to establish its rightful ownership.
  • The recovery highlights Egypt's efforts to safeguard its cultural heritage.
  • Egypt has retrieved several other stolen artifacts from Switzerland since 2021.