JERUSALEM (JTA) – The lids of two ancient Egyptian sarcophagi that had held mummies were confiscated in Israel by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The ancient decorated wooden covers, determined to be authentic and thousands of years old, are believed to have been stolen from Egypt and smuggled first to Dubai and then to a European country before arriving in Israel, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. They were sawed in half to allow for their easy transport, causing irreparable damage to the ancient items.
They were discovered during a raid of antiques shops in the Old City of Jerusalem by inspectors of the Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery.
The coffin covers likely were brought to Israel in order to obtain authentication documentation that would allow them to be exported and sold abroad to the highest bidder. The documentation would have identified them as being discovered in Israel.
It is not known what happened to the coffin and the mummy.
Egyptian authorities have officially requested that the covers be returned.