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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 October, 2003, 14:44 GMT
Egypt's 'Ramses' mummy returned
Mummy thought to be Ramses I
The mummy is believed to be that of the Pharaoh Ramses I
An ancient Egyptian mummy thought to be that of Pharaoh Ramses I has returned home after more than 140 years in North American museums.

The body was carried off the plane in Cairo in a box draped in Egypt's flag.

The Michael Carlos Museum gave it back after tests showed it was probably that of the man who ruled 3,000 years ago.

The US institution acquired it three years ago from a Canadian museum, which in turn is thought to have bought it from Egyptian grave robbers in 1860.

The mummy was welcomed back home with songs and military band music during a ceremony at the national museum in Cairo.

"We are the sons of the Nile. Welcome Ramses, the builder of esteemed Egypt," sang a group of schoolchildren around the coffin.

Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, travelled from the US with the body and said it would be moved next year to the Luxor Museum in southern Egypt.

"We are not 100% sure that the mummy is that of Ramses I," said Mr Hawass. "But we are 100% sure that it is of a king."

'Great gesture'

Atlanta's Michael Carlos Museum acquired the mummy in 1999, but offered to return it after hi-tech scanning equipment indicated it was likely to be that of Ramses I.

The museum website said it had been acquired from the Niagara Falls museum.

Seven-year-old Rasha Adel looks at the mummy thought to be Ramses I
The mummy will be exhibited in Cairo before moving to Luxor
It is thought a Canadian collector bought the mummy for the Niagara Falls institution around 1860 from an Egyptian family which had stumbled on a tomb filled with royal mummies at a site near Luxor.

According to the Atlanta museum's website, the family sold treasures from the site until they were discovered and the tomb - with an empty coffin bearing the name Ramses I - officially revealed in 1881.

Mr Hawass praised the handover as "a great, civilised gesture".

And he appealed to other world museums to return Egypt's antiquities, particularly the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum and the bust of Nefertiti in the Berlin Museum.

Ramses I ruled for just two years but is renowned for founding the 19th Dynasty, which spawned many Ramses - including Ramses II who was on the throne for several decades.

The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"A boost for their campaign to have other artefacts returned"

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