More than half a century ago, a prominent Egyptian archaeologist unearthed a stunning ancient mummy mask at the Saqqara pyramids near Cairo — the golden image of a noblewoman's face.
Mohammed Zakaria Ghoneim deposited the 3,200-year-old relic in a warehouse at Saqqara, where he meticulously documented his discovery. Seven years later, in 1959, Egyptian records show it was still in the same storeroom.
What happened to the burial mask of Ka Nefer Nefer in the four decades that followed is a mystery.
It resurfaced in 1998 when the St. Louis Art Museum acquired it. And now it is at the center of one of the most acrimonious fights in the antiquities world.
The case lays bare the complexities involved in growing efforts by Egypt and other countries to reclaim artifacts stolen or looted from their ancient civilizations.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Egypt faces obstacles in recovering antiquities