April 11, 2007

Ancient Pharaoh’s hair returned to Egypt

Posted at 12:51 pm in Similar cases

More on the return of some of the hair of Ramses II to Egypt.

ABC News (USA)

Ancient Pharaoh’s Hair Returns to Egypt
CAIRO, Egypt Apr 10, 2007 (AP)

Locks of 3,200-year-old hair from the pharaoh Ramses II were unveiled at the Egyptian Museum on Tuesday, returned to Egypt after being stolen 30 years ago in France and put up for sale on the Internet.

The small tufts of brown hair were displayed alongside pieces of linen bandages and 11 pieces of resin used in the mummification of Ramses and his son Merneptah in a glass display case. Photographers mobbed the case as Egypt’s culture minister and antiquities chief showed off the returned items.

The hair will eventually be put on display next to Ramses’ mummy at the museum.

The theft of the items was discovered when the pieces of hair were put up for sale on a Web site last November by a French postman, Jean-Michel Diebolt, who gave the hair a price tag of $2,600.

Diebolt is the son of a French researcher who examined the 3,200-year-old mummy when it was brought to France in 1976 for treatment to stop the spread of a rare fungus. Diebolt is being investigated in France for allegedly possessing stolen goods.

Egyptian antiquities official Ahmed Saleh traveled to Paris early last week to retrieve the stolen items.

“It was wonderful mission. I felt very great when I had the lock of hair of Ramses II in my hand,” said Saleh.

Ramses II, who ruled from 1270 to 1213 B.C., is one of ancient Egypt’s most famous pharaohs, known for building some of its grandest monuments. Some believe him to be the pharaoh at the time of Moses.

Egypt’s antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said the retrieval of the items was made possible by the strong diplomatic relations between Egypt and France.

Hawass, who has pressed several countries for the return of Egyptian antiquities, said the Internet is playing an important role in the search for other stolen relics.

“We open the Internet everyday, and the most important source you have are my spies,” Hawass said. “I have spies all over the world, and those spies, they inform me every day of things you would not believe.”

Hawass has sought without success the return of such finds as the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, the bust of Nefertiti at Berlin’s Egyptian Museum and a pharaonic mask at the St. Louis Art Museum.

But he said Egypt is awaiting the arrival of a statue coming from Spain, another artifact from Mexico and duck-shaped lamps that were stolen from Saqqara and will be retrieved from Paris.

If Egypt has its way, more artifacts will follow. Saleh added: “When one country gives you back your artifact, other countries will do the same.”

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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  1. Donald Mrkacek said,

    03.24.11 at 12:16 am

    You need to think bigger, during the American Industrail Era many artifacts left Egypt and found their way to the Colonies. You might be surprised to find that at many Natural History Museums in the States their are warehouses full of Egyptian Antiquities that the capitalists have been using against its own people as equity cash houses. This is a serious problem in the States and needs to be addressed. They are not used as research the articles were packed away and in these warehouses you will find answers to many questions.

  2. Matthew said,

    04.22.11 at 10:29 am

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. The research justification for retaining artefacts is a diversionary tactic in almost every instance.
    The researchers that are really interested in studying artefacts in detail are generally willing to travel to the countries where the artefacts are located anyway – if this was not the case, the one would assume that within Egypt, one would find only Egyptian Egyptologists, which is clearly not the case.

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