3,400-year-old statue portraying the head of King Ramses II returned to Egypt

Stephen Nartey April 23, 2024
The fragment of a statue of the pharaoh Ramesses II/Photo credit: Swiss Info/Federal Office of Culture

Egypt’s antiquities ministry announced the return of a 3,400-year-old statue portraying the head of King Ramses II, which had been stolen and smuggled out of the country over thirty years ago.

The statue is now housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, pending restoration, according to the ministry’s statement.

The stolen statue is believed to have been taken from the Ramses II temple in the ancient city of Abydos in Southern Egypt over thirty years ago. While the exact date of the theft remains uncertain, Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the head of Egypt’s antiquities repatriation department, estimates it to have occurred in the late 1980s or early 1990s, according to Reuters.

Egyptian authorities detected the stolen artifact being offered for sale at an exhibition in London back in 2013. Following this sighting, the statue reportedly passed through several other countries before eventually reaching Switzerland, as revealed by the antiquities ministry.

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

Ramses II is widely recognized as one of ancient Egypt’s most powerful pharaohs and is also referred to as Ramses the Great. He reigned as the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty from 1279 to 1213 BCE.

Egypt worked in collaboration with Swiss authorities to establish the rightful ownership of the statue. Last year, Switzerland handed over the artifact to the Egyptian embassy in Bern. However, it was only recently that Egypt completed the process to bring the statue back to its home country.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 23, 2024


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