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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Stolen relics go home to Egypt
The Great Pyramids in Egypt
Egypt proved the origin of the antiquities four months ago
More than 600 Egyptian antiquities flew back to Egypt from the UK on Thursday, four years after they were stolen and smuggled out.

Wadia Hanna from Egypt's prosecutor-general's office said the items were stolen before being shipped to London via Switzerland.

They were seized by British authorities at Heathrow airport.

They include two pharaoh coffins inscribed with hieroglyphics and ceramics from the Greek era.

"This is a great achievement," said Mr Hanna.

Egypt has stepped up efforts to stop smuggling and corruption in the last few years.

Rosetta stone

Earlier this year, a regional conference in Egypt called on Western museums to return "stolen" Middle Eastern artefacts to their country of origin.

Lawyers taking part in the event said monuments such as the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum had been plundered and should be handed back.

Shaheen Abou-Alfoutouh, one of the Egyptian organisers, said the West should agree to protect human heritage.

The Rosetta Stone was crucial in the early deciphering of hieroglyphics. It was found in Egypt by the French in 1799, but later fell into British hands.

"The way the Rosetta Stone was taken from Egypt by France was illegal, and the way it ended up in the British Museum was also illegal," said Mr Abou-Alfoutouh at the conference in February.

"We think it's no less important than the three pyramids of Egypt or the Sphinx."




SEE ALSO:
Greeks 'borrowed Egyptian numbers'
15 Sep 03  |  Science/Nature
Egypt wants antiquities loan
30 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Egypt calls for return of Rosetta Stone
21 Jul 03  |  Entertainment
Egypt reclaims stolen antiquities
08 Jul 02  |  Entertainment
Art smuggler reveals trade secrets
31 Jan 02  |  Entertainment



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