Israel has handed over stolen ancient caskets to Egypt in an effort to cement relations between the two nations that, historically, have been at loggerheads. According to CNN, Israel’s director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dore Gold, hopes the return of the relics will breed improved bilateral relations between the two countries.
The two wooden coffins were handed over on Sunday to Hazem Khairat, Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel, following successful consent to all the necessary bureaucratic procedures, CNN reports.
Owing to their fragility and age, the two monuments had to be preserved in a climate-controlled room, Gold told journalists.
What’s So Special about Them?
It is estimated that the two coffins are 3,000 years old, adding to the number of antiquities that epitomize Egypt’s rich history. According to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), these wooden covers are believed to have carried ancient Egyptian mummies before they were stolen.
The IAA further claims that after thorough laboratory examination in Israel, it was determined that the caskets were authentic; the authority also confirmed that the lids date between 1600 B.C and 700 B.C.
How Were They Stolen?
Israel Antiquities Authority claims the two plaster-covered wooden caskets were stolen from ancient tombs located in western deserts of Egypt. Later, unknown people smuggled them to Dubai, and were subsequently moved to Israel through a third country in Europe.
Israeli authorities also suspect that the items were sawed into two pieces to conceal their origin and facilitate easier transportation, causing irreparable damage to them.
The artifacts were seized by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem in 2012 during a regular market inspection.
Similar Artifacts Returned
In April 2015, the United States of America returned to Egypt an ancient casket that was reportedly found in a garage in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009.
According to International Business Times, the coffin was just one of a collection of Egyptian monuments, worth $2.5 million, believed to have been illegally smuggled to the US over a long period of time.