A looted ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that was on display at a US museum has been returned to Egypt.

The Green Coffin, which is 2.9 meters long, dates back to the Late Dynastic period, which spanned from 664 BC to 332 BC. It belonged to a priest called Ankhenmaat.

The Green Coffin was looted from the AbuSir necropolis in North Egypt by a global art trafficking network that smuggled it through Germany into the US in 2008. A collector then loaned it to the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 2013.

After an investigation that lasted several years, the Green Coffin was restored and formally handed over by the US diplomats at a ceremony in Cairo.

The restoration is part of the Egyptian government’s efforts to stop the trafficking of its stolen antiquities. Over the past years, there have been so many other repatriations; in 2021 alone, authorities in Cairo succeeded in getting 5,300 stolen artifacts returned to Egypt from across the world.

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. In attendance were Egypt’s foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the country’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa.

Sameh Shoukry said “a precious piece of Egypt’s history was recovered after cooperation with our friends in the US and after efforts that lasted for several years.”

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