CAIRO • Hundreds of ancient artefacts returned by Italy after they were recovered from smugglers in May went on display at the Egyptian museum in Cairo on Wednesday.
The relics date to different eras, suggesting that the smugglers were well-organised, according to museum curator Ahmed Samir.
"They researched Egypt from north to south to extract these artefacts. Thank God they were returned to their country," he said.
Mr Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, head of the Department of Recovered Antiquities at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, said Naples police seized a collection of parcels in May dating back to several civilisations, stolen from illegal excavations.
The treasure haul included 19,000 coins from the Greco-Roman period, 151 small statues and 175 other artefacts, which were returned and displayed. Some required restoration, but most were intact, museum director Sabah Abdelrazek said.
"The restoration did not take long. The coffin was separated. It was repaired by the museum and there was a bronze statue which was also separated. It was repaired as well. We have pictures from before the restoration displayed here."
Meanwhile, hundreds of ancient pottery items have been discovered in an Alexandria museum in a hiding place most probably created during World War II, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said.
Pots and other receptacles dating back to Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras were discovered "during restoration work" in a garden inside the Greco-Roman museum of Alexandria in northern Egypt, the ministry said in a statement.
"These pots were most probably hidden by (British) archaeologist Alan Rowe and... employees in the museum's garden during World War II," Dr Ayman Ashmawy, head of Egyptian antiquities at the ministry, said.
The artefacts were hidden to "protect them from looting or being destroyed by repeated bombardments during the war", he added. "The hiding process was carried out quickly without being documented or recorded on the museum's list."
The haul includes Hidari cremation urns, intended for ashes during Greek times. Other items include coloured pots, large dishes and tableware from the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE