Priceless Egyptian Sarcophagi Lids Were Sawn in Half by Smugglers

By Veronique Greenwood | April 4, 2012 10:52 am


Two wooden coffin lids, painted with Egyptian symbols, were recently seized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Carbon dating of the lids has revealed that they are truly ancient: one is between 2,800 and 3,000 years old, dating from the Iron Age, the other between 3,600 and 3,400 years old, from the late Bronze Age.

The lids were found during an inspection of a shop in Jerusalem’s Old City, and the authorities suspect that they were looted from Egypt sometime during last year’s revolution. What were they doing in Israel? Well, it seems there is a loophole in Israeli law that allows antiquities there to receive official papers that allow their sale without any explanation of where they came from. The IAA thinks the smugglers, who sawed the plaster-covered wood lids in half, likely in order to fit them into a suitcase, brought them to Israel to be “laundered” in this fashion. No one has any idea what happened to the sarcophagi the lids covered, or the mummies that rested within.

Here is the above lid, at full size:


  • Charlie L.

    This is incredibly disheartening.

  • mike

    Find the ones responsible and saw them in half

  • kelltrill

    @Charlie L, it’s not all disheartening. Take a look:
    During the Egyptian revolution that overthrew Mubarak, Egyptians made a concerted effort to protect these antiquities.

  • Magoonski

    Hey, as long as people are willing to buy them of course they’re going to be damaged. Don’t blame the smugglers, they probably have family and no decent job opportunities. If you want to stop this kind of thing, fix poverty and punish the wealthy who buy things that belong to the world.


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