Met to return King Tut tomb artifacts
Agrees to cede items to Egypt’s newest museum
CAIRO — The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will return 19 artifacts taken from the tomb of the famed boy pharaoh Tutankhamun, Egypt’s antiquities authority and the museum said yesterday.
The trove is made up of small figurines and jewelry, including a miniature bronze dog, a sphinx-shaped bracelet ornament, and a necklace, said antiquities chief Zahi Hawass.
“Thanks to the generosity and ethical behavior of the Met, these 19 objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun can now be reunited with the other treasures of the boy king,’’ Hawass said.
He said the items will return to Egypt next year and become part of the permanent King Tutankhamun collection at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which is under construction near the Giza pyramids and is scheduled to open in 2012.
The antiquities authority said the pieces were sent to New York in 1948, when the Metropolitan Museum closed its expedition house in Egypt.
The decision to repatriate the objects was made after an examination of the validity of their origin. In a statement on the Metropolitan Museum website, director Thomas Campbell said that all of the items were from the Tutankhamun tomb, and that Egypt’s claim was justified.
“Because of precise legislation relating to that excavation, these objects were never meant to have left Egypt,’’ he said.
British archeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, when it was common practice for archeologists to keep some or all of their own findings.
Some of the pieces in the collection were handed down through a niece of Carter and his estate in Luxor, which he left to the Metropolitan Museum.
King Tut is one of history’s most famous pharaohs, because archeologists found his tomb full of glittering wealth from the rich 18th Dynasty (1569-1315 B.C.).