In an attempt to stop the sale of a potentially stolen or illegally excavated set of artifacts, The Antiquities Ministry has announced it is taking “all legal measures” to keep the objects from being sold in international auction houses. “The collection, spanning several eras of ancient Egyptian history, includes amulets, wall fragments, wooden and silver statues, stone jars, mascots, and jewelry," The Cairo Post reports from head of the Repatriated Artifacts Department, Aly Ahmed. Photos taken from the auction houses' websites were circulated among museums, archaeological sites, and antique storerooms by Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty.
The artifacts are up for bid at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses in the UK, as well as the Mellon auction in France. The set includes a statue of Iset - wife of the scribe Imen-heru and priestess of a religious sect based around modern day Fayoum - valued at almost $1 million, and a monumental granite figure of the lioness-headed goddess of war, Sekhmet, seated on a throne, valued between 3 and 5 million USD.
Since the revolution, countless pieces of Egypt’s cultural heritage have been looted. Last year, at Christie’s, a statue of the scribe Sekhemka sold for $23.8 million, setting the record for ancient Egyptian artifacts. Recently a Shabti statuette from the 26th dynasty was repatriated from Austria after help from the Foreign Ministry and Interpol. In the past four years, the Ministry of Antiquities has repatriated more than 1,600 artifacts with many cases still open in European countries.