Man arrested in Egypt airport trying to smuggle 2,000-year-old animal mummies

December 26, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Egyptian airport security nabbed an Australian teacher who stuffed his luggage with 2,000-year old animal mummies and religious figurines wrapped as gifts. The man was on his way to Thailand when a security official became suspicious of the wrapped figurines that were placed amid souvenir ceramic pots in his suitcase.

When security officials opened the case, they found quite a collection of antiquities including 19 figurines of the revered ancient Egyptian gods of Horus and Thoth, and two mummies of a cat and an ibis, a long-beaked bird, both dating back to 300 B.C. Horus is a falcon-headed god, who represented the greatest cosmic powers for ancient Egyptians. Thoth is believed to have given the Egyptians the gift of hieroglyphic writing. Animal mummification was a common practice throughout Egyptian history. Thousands of mummified animals and many animal deity figurines were found from Egypt’s Late Period, between 330 B.C. and 30 B.C. Certain animals, such as ibises, falcons, and cats, were thought to be holy, the living representatives of Egyptian gods.

The man was arrested and has been charged with smuggling antiquities, which can carry a penalty of as much as 15 years. The Egyptian antiquity chief Zahi Hawass said later in a statement that the seized artifacts altogether weighed only about 12lbs.


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