The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has agreed to repatriate a collection of ancient Egyptian objects including a lapis-lazuli sphinx that once adorned a bracelet worn by King Tutankhamen, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.
Curators at the museum have established that all 19 antiquities, which also include a three-quarter-inch-high bronze dog, come from the tomb of the boy-pharaoh, which was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings, according to an e-mailed statement. They are among a number of objects that were acquired by the Met after the deaths of Carter and Lord Carnarvon, the English earl who sponsored the expedition.
“The objects will go on display with the Tutankhamen exhibition at Times Square, where they will stay until January,” the head of the council, Zahi Hawass, said in the statement. After a further six months on show in New York they will return to Egypt, to be housed in a new museum being built on the Giza plateau.
The Egyptian government is on a quest to recover ancient artifacts from abroad. At the top of its wish-list are the Rosetta Stone, which is housed in the British Museum, and a bust of Nefertiti that is kept by the Neues Museum in Berlin. Tourism, which accounts for 12.6 percent of jobs, is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency and brought in $10.76 billion last year, according to the tourism ministry.
“Because of precise legislation relating to that excavation, these objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the government of Egypt,” Thomas P. Campbell, director of the museum, said in a news release posted today on the Met’s website.