Egypt asks US to return 'illegal' sarcophagus

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CAIRO: Egypt has asked the United States to return an ornately painted Pharaonic coffin that was smuggled out of the country more than 125 years ago, the Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Sunday.

The wooden coffin, dating from the 21st dynasty (1081-931 BC), was taken out of Egypt illegally in 1884, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass was quoted as saying.

The coffin was confiscated last month by authorities in Miami, Florida, when it first raised suspicions after it was bought by an American from a dealer in Spain, according to the statement.

It is inscribed with religious texts and drawings to help the deceased, a man named Emus, in his journey to the afterlife, it added.

Egyptian authorities have over the last six years recovered over 5,500 artifacts taken illegally from Egypt, it said. -AFP

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