Egypt recovers ancient limestone bust smuggled to Holland

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Egypt's embassy in Amsterdam received a limestone statue from the First Intermediate Period which was stolen and smuggled out of the country in the 1990s, Egyptian Antiquities Ministry official said on Monday.

"The statue was first noticed by the department in March 2018 when it was put on display at an art exhibition hall in Holland," said Shaaban Abdel Gawad, supervisor general of the Antiquities Repatriation Department at the Ministry of Antiquities.

The department immediately reported the incident to Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which contacted the Dutch police and concerned authorities in Holland to confiscate the statue and inform the hall and the owner of the statue that it was a stolen artifact.

The Dutch authorities handed the statue over to Egypt's embassy in Amsterdam and it will return to its homeland soon, Abdel Gawad said.

The statue is carved of limestone and was uncovered via illegal excavation carried out in 1990s at the Saqqara necropolis, added the official.

It depicts a top official named Nekaw-Ptah in a standing posture and wearing a short wig. It also bears hieroglyphic text showing the name of its owner and the date when he lived.

Egypt, one of the most ancient civilizations, has been working effortlessly to preserve and retrieve its rich archaeological treasures and historical heritage, which will also help boost the once-flourishing tourism industry that has largely been affected by the political turmoil over the past five years.

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