A German museum confirmed Sunday plans to lend its greatest treasure, the seated statue of Hemiunu, to Egypt for the 2013 opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza near Cairo.
Doubts over the loan cropped up after Zahi Hawass, the flamboyant chief of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities who visited Germany last month, called for the statue and other Pharaonic treasures to return to Egyptian permanently.
Hemiunu is believed to have been the architect of the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza. The life-size statue, depicting him in nothing but a loin cloth, is the top draw at the Roman and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, Germany.
Egypt’s top archaeologist Zahi Hawass is feeling good today, after the German museum housing a famous seated statue of Hemiunu has agreed to lend Egypt the statue for the 2013 opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, near the pyramids. It continues Hawass’ push to have all Egyptian artifacts taken from the country returned to Egypt.
This is just a loan, but a Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) official said that they fully expect Germany to allow the statue to remain in Egypt upon the end of the agreement.
“We would not have agreed to only a loan if there were not discussions in the works that could see the statue return to its rightful home for good,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media.
The statue is one of the top pieces at the Roman and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim and doubts over the weekend of the possible loan deal had emerged after Hawass, the outspoken and often controversial figure, had called for the statue and other ancient Egyptian pieces to be returned to Egypt permanently.
The museum, however, did confirm they would loan the statue for the opening of the museum, but said upon the end of the deal, the statue would return to Germany.