Museums Thefts Egypt

Ransacked Egyptian museum recovers more looted works

Police sting operation results in 13 artefacts and first arrest connected to the thefts

Salvage operations at the Mallawi Museum at the end of August

The Mallawi Museum in Minia, Egypt has recovered at least 400 objects that were looted following violent protests there last month. Thirteen of the artefacts were retrieved last week through a sting operation, in which police arrested a local butcher after he attempted to sell the works to an undercover police officer in Giza.

The artefacts recovered during the sting include a statue of Jehuty, the god of wisdom, a group of Terra-cotta statues and six lanterns, Egypt’s antiquities minister Mohammad Ibrahim said in a statement.

The Mallawi Museum was among the hardest hit by the violence that erupted after the removal of president Mohammed Morsi in July. The institution, located 300km south of Cairo, is known for its important collection of artefacts from Tell el-Amarna, the capital city founded by the pharaoh Akhenaton around 1350BC. At least one staff member was killed and around 1,060 of the museum’s 1,089 objects were damaged or stolen during the attack.

Unesco sent a delegation of experts to survey the damage at the Mallawi Museum from 11 to 16 September. The group determined that “while the buildings were not badly damaged, 600 of the museum’s collection of artefacts were missing”, according to a release issued last week. The Antiquities Ministry has pledged not to punish anyone who comes forward with information about the looting and is offering small rewards for objects returned.

Essam Al-Sakkat, the Mallawi butcher, is the first person to be arrested in connection to the looting of the museum, reports the Daily News Egypt.

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