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Egypt Reclaims 3,400-Year-Old Ramses II Statue After Decades

Stolen over 30 years ago, Egypt’s 3,400-year-old Ramses II statue has finally been returned.

The Egyptian antiquities ministry announced on Sunday the return of a 3,400-year-old statue depicting the head of King Ramses II, which was stolen and smuggled out of the country over three decades ago.

Now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the statue is undergoing restoration, as confirmed by a ministry statement and is not on display. The artifact had vanished after being taken from the Ramses II temple in the ancient city of Abydos in Southern Egypt more than three decades ago, with the theft estimated to have occurred in the late 1980s or early 1990s, according to Shaaban Abdel Gawad, head of Egypt’s antiquities repatriation department.

Authorities in Egypt first spotted the artifact when it appeared for sale at an exhibition in London in 2013. It then traversed through several countries before ending up in Switzerland, according to the antiquities ministry.

“This head is part of a group of statues depicting King Ramses II seated alongside a number of Egyptian deities,” Abdel Gawad explained.

Ramses II, often referred to as Ramses the Great, is renowned as one of ancient Egypt’s most formidable pharaohs. He reigned as the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt from 1279 to 1213 B.C.

Collaborating with Swiss authorities, Egypt worked to confirm its rightful ownership of the statue. Switzerland returned the artifact to the Egyptian embassy in Bern last year, with Egypt recently succeeding in bringing the statue back home.

Melissa Enoch

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