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Tutankhamun treasures to be returned to Egypt

Further coverage of the decision by New York’s Metropolitan Museum [1] to return 19 artefacts to Egypt.

The Daily Star (Dhaka) [2]

Friday, November 12, 2010
New York Museum to return artefacts to Egypt

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is returning to Egypt 19 small objects that were entombed for centuries with ancient Egypt’s “boy king,” officials announced Wednesday.

A small bronze dog and a sphinx bracelet-element were attributed with certainty to Tutankhamun’s splendid burial chamber, which was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922 in the Valley of Kings, the museum and the Supreme Council of Antiques of Egypt said.

Two Met curators extensively researched the items, which became part of the museum’s collection from the 1920s to the 1940s.

“These objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the Government of Egypt,” Met Director Thomas P. Campbell said in a joint statement with the Egyptian council.

Prior to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the Egyptian government customarily allowed excavators to keep a portion of their prize. That was not to be the case after Carter’s discovery.

Still, items were taken. The Met acquired some of the 19 items from Carter’s estate, officials said. The museum has been proactive in returning items to Egypt.

The objects will be displayed in a Times Square King Tut exhibit until January 2011, then will be part of an Egyptian exhibit at the Met before being sent to Egypt in June 2011, the statement said. They eventually will be housed at the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, scheduled to open in 2012.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the antiquities council, has long campaigned for museums to return items to Egypt. He called the Met’s move a “wonderful gesture.”

In 2009, Egypt suspended ties with France’s Louvre museum because it held five ancient murals. The French government agreed to return them.

Hawass has unsuccessfully lobbied the British Museum to return the famed Rosetta Stone. He also wants a German museum to hand over a bust of Queen Nefertiti.

Tutankhamun ruled during the 18th Dynasty, from 1336 BC to 1327 BC, according to the website Egyptology Online, and is believed to have died young. Forensic analysis of his mummy has put his age of death at about 17 to 19 years.

Wall Street Journal blogs [3]

November 11, 2010, 4:56 PM ET
Metropolitan Museum Returns Artifacts to Egypt

A bracelet and small bronze statue of a dog excavated from King Tut’s tomb may be the latest antiquities to make a return trip to Egypt from New York City, but they are certainly not the first.

As The Journal reported earlier, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is sending back 19 items that were dug up from the famous pharaoh’s grave and held by the museum for decades. The returns are the latest victory for Egypt’s antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, who has been on a crusade lobbying international museums to relinquish prized archeological artifacts, which he plans to display at a new national museum in Cairo.

Hawass, who has claimed to have retrieved more than 5,000 Egyptian antiquities in his career, called the latest return “a wonderful gesture” and praised the Met for its “ethical behavior.” As The Journal profile makes clear, his campaign to retrieve Egyptian artifacts has put some of the world’s most iconic relics in his cross-hairs: the Rosetta Stone (on display for more than 200 years in the British Museum) and the Zodiac of Dendera (housed in the Louvre in Paris).

The Met has cooperated with the Egyptian government before. Last year the museum returned a granite fragment inscribed with the name of an Egyptian ruler. The piece, which was on loan from a private owner, was discovered to have belonged to a larger shrine used to house a statue of a deity. The fragment was never displayed publicly. In 2001, the Met relinquished a 19th Dynasty relief showing the head of an Egyptian goddess that had been on loan from a private owner since 1996.

Other returns have included the Euphronios Krater (an ancient Greek vase) and the Hellenistic silver collection, an ancient set of 16 silver pieces that was smuggled out of Sicily. The Met has also returned works of art that were looted by the Nazis to their rightful owners.

Independent [4]

New York to return Tutankhamun treasures
By Maggie Hyde in Cairo
Friday, 12 November 2010

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is to return 19 artefacts taken from the tomb of the boy pharaoh Tutankhamun. The trove was made up of small figurines and jewellery, including a miniature bronze dog, a sphinx-shaped bracelet ornament and a necklace, said the head of Egypt’s antiquities council Dr Zahi Hawass.

“Thanks to the generosity and ethical behaviour of the Met, these 19 objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun can now be reunited with the other treasures of the boy king,”he said.

He said the items would be returned to Egypt next year and become part of the permanent Tutankhamun collection at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which is is scheduled to open in 2012. The pieces were sent to New York in 1948 when the Metropolitan Museum closed its base in Egypt.

The decision to repatriate the objects comes after an extensive examination into their validity. In a statement on the Metropolitan Museum’s website, director Thomas Campbell said all of the items were from the Tutankhamun tomb and Egypt’s claim on the antiquities was justified.

“Because of precise legislation relating to that excavation, these objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the Government of Egypt,” he said.

British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 and some of the pieces were handed down through a niece of Carter’s and his estate, which he left to the Metropolitan Museum.