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Switzerland returns 3,400-year-old statue fragment to Egypt

Switzerland has returned a 3,400-year-old statue fragment to Egypt after it was seized in criminal proceedings in Geneva.

Carine Bachmann, the director of the country’s Federal Office of Culture (FOC), returned the fragment, part of a statue of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, to the Egyptian embassy in Bern on July 3. According to a press release, the fragment was stolen from the Temple of Ramses II at Abydos, Egypt between the late 1980s and early 1990s and travelled through “various stations abroad before it was finally introduced in Switzerland”.

The return was part of the country’s Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Assets passed on June 20, 2003. The act implemented the 1970 UNESCO Convention prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property.

The restitution “underlines Switzerland’s and Egypt’s shared commitment in the fight against the illegal trafficking of heritage, which was strengthened by a bilateral agreement on the import and return of cultural heritage in 2011,” the statement said.

Ramses II is believed to have ruled during the 13th century B.C.E. He was known for being among the most important pharaohs to have presided over Egypt during the New Kingdom period, when the empire was at the height of its power. In addition to being celebrated for the extent of his reign, Ramses II is remembered for the cities and monuments that he had built between 1279 BCE and 1213 BCE.


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