Spain returns smuggled figurines and funerary jars to Egypt

MADRID, December 20 (Reuters)Spain on Monday returned 36 stolen antiquities to Egyptian authorities, including figurines of gods and goddesses and ancient jars meant to hold human remains.

The artifacts – including a granite sculpture of the lion’s head of the warrior goddess Sekhmet – were illegally removed from archaeological sites, officials said.

Smugglers brought them to Spain where police seized them after an investigation in 2014.

The Egyptian ambassador to Spain, Youssef Diaeldin Mekkawy, received them during a ceremony at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid.

“The recovery of these 36 archaeological pieces is a successful operation that has been going on for years, a coordinated operation between the Egyptian and Spanish authorities,” he said.

The artifacts, worth more than 150,000 euros ($170,000), were all likely looted from sites in Saqqara and Mit Rahina, Spanish police said.

Egypt and other states have stepped up campaigns for the return of items stolen by smugglers or looted by imperial powers.

($1 = 0.8855 euros)

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Fran Orellana, editing by Andrei Khalip and Andrew Heavens)


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