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The Egyptian sarcophagus of the famous priest Nedjemankh is back home

Disappeared during the Arab Spring Revolution in 2011, the golden sarcophagus of the famous Egyptian priest Nedjemankh recently returned to Egypt after having previously been fraudulently sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Egyptian and American authorities have announced that the golden sarcophagus of the famous priest Nedjemankh, missing since the Arab Spring Revolution of 2011, has returned to Egypt, after having probably been fraudulently sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2017.

A story that ends well

The New York Museum is said to have acquired the precious object in July 2017, for about 4 million dollars, from Christophe Kunicki, a Parisian art dealer. The latter allegedly transferred the gold sarcophagus to the museum, attaching false documents, including an Egyptian export permit forged in 1971, without the museum immediately becoming aware of the fraud.

It was only last February that evidence revealed to Ahmed Fathy, restoration officer at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, indicated that the highly prized artifact had been stolen as part of an international smuggling operation. After examining the evidence, the museum officials agreed to return the golden coffin to its rightful owners, the Egyptian people and removed the object from its exhibition.

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A historically rich sarcophagus

Although the sarcophagus no longer contains Nedjemankh, the principal priest of the Herakleopolis Arieshef Aries-God, it remains a rich and symbolic object for the Egyptian heritage. Decorated with hieroglyphic scenes and texts to guide the priest on his journey to eternal life, the great sarcophagus dates back to the 1st century BC.

The golden sarcophagus, symbol of the priest’s privileged relationship with the Egyptian Gods, has a unique feature: the thin layers of silver inside the sarcophagus would have been placed in this way to protect the priest’s face during his journey.


Published on 7 October 2019