An ancient Egyptian sarcophagus dubbed the “Green Coffin” has been returned to Egypt.
According to media outlets, the 2.9 m (9.5 ft) long “Green Coffin” was on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, US. The wooden sarcophagus dates back to the Late Dynastic Period, which spanned 664BC to 332BC, and belonged to a priest called Ankhenmaat.
The repatriation is part of the Egyptian government’s efforts to stop the trafficking of its stolen antiquities, the independent reported. In 2021, authorities in Cairo succeeded in getting 5,300 stolen artefacts returned to Egypt from across the world.
The precious sarcophagus was looted from the Abu Sir necropolis in north Egypt by a global art trafficking network. It was smuggled through Germany into the US in 2008, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.
The sarcophagus features a brightly painted top surface.
It was handed over at a ceremony following a news conference on Monday in Cairo by Daniel Rubinstein, the US charge d’affaires in Egypt.
The handover came more than three months after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office determined the sarcophagus was looted from Abu Sir Necropolis, north of Cairo.
“This stunning coffin was trafficked by a well-organized network that has looted countless antiquities from the region,” Mr Bragg had said earlier three months ago.
“We are pleased that this object will be returned to Egypt, where it rightfully belongs.”
Mr Bragg said the same network had smuggled a gilded coffin out of Egypt that was featured at New York’s Metropolitan Museum. Met bought the piece from a Paris art dealer in 2017 for about $4 million. It was returned to Egypt in 2019.