The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced that authorities at Cairo International Airport had intercepted a haul of mummified body parts in an announcement on Sunday 24 February 2019. The parts apparently comprised a right foot, right leg, left leg, two left hands, and an upper right arm and attached part of the torso, and are thought to have come from at least two mummies. These were packed inside a hollowed out speaker in transit to Belgium; the identity of the smugglers has not been revealed at the current time, nor whether any arrests were made. The mummy parts have been transferred to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, to attempt to determine their origin and carry out any restoration work possible.
Officials in Cairo with mummified body parts seized en route to Belgium last week. Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
Looting has been a problem in Egypt for millenia, although how much of a problem it presents varies over time, generally in response to economic pressures. The country has seen an upsurge in looting since 2011, when long-term Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a military coup following months of protest. This looting is not only harmful to the country's heritage, but dangerous to those involved, with a number of people having been killed while breaking into tombs, particularly children, who are often sent into small tunnels that adults cannot access.
Detail of mummified body parts seized en route to Belgium last week. Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
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