Sunday, January 25, 2009

Egyptian artefacts in Sweden to return home

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

An Egyptian antiquities collection at the …stergötlands Country Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, will soon be back in its homeland, Nevine El-Aref reports.

After being on display for almost five decades at the …stergötlands Country Museum in Stockholm, a collection of 212 artefacts ranging from the early pre-dynastic era right through to the Coptic era will be coming home soon.

The story of the collection goes back to the late 1920s when Otto Smith, an antiquities lover, excavated several archaeological areas in Saqqara and Luxor during his several visits to Egypt. The 212 objects he is known to have unearthed included wood and ivory arrows, painted and plain clay vessels, pots, fabrics, chandeliers, mirrors with a design of the goddess Hathor, wooden combs and limestone reliefs with ancient Egyptian engravings as well as marble, limestone and granite statues depicting Pharaonic deities and nobles. There are also a number of marble vases, rings made of animal bone, beads and coloured scarabs.

Smith kept his priceless collection at his house in Stockholm all through his life until he died in 1934. In 1956 his grandson, who was not able to take care of it, sent the collection to the neighbouring …stergötlands Museum for restoration. In 1959, Smith's family offered the 212 pieces to the museum according to a contract preserving the family's ownership of the objects as well as the right to recover it at anytime if it was subjected to deterioration or negligence, placed in storage or removed from its current display at one of the museum's galleries to any other place in the museum.

Regrettably, over the last 10 years successive visits to the museum revealed that the administration had violated the articles of the 1959 contract as 163 items of the collection had been removed from their original display at one of the galleries to its restaurant, which is located at the basement, while the others had been stored.

See the above page for the full story.

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