Israel seizes ancient artifacts as stolen

April 3, 2012 at 4:18 PM
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JERUSALEM, April 3 (UPI) -- Authorities in Israel say they seized two decorated covers of coffins that contained mummies thousands of years ago in Egypt as possible stolen property.

The artifacts were found by inspectors of the Unit for Prevention of Antiquities Robbery while checking shops in a marketplace in the Old City of Jerusalem, reported Tuesday.

The covers have been authenticated and are adorned with "breathtaking decorations and paintings of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics," the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

One of the covers has been dated to the period between the 10th and eighth centuries B.C., considered the Iron Age, and the other to between the 16th and 14th centuries B.C., the late Bronze age, authorities said.

It's unknown how the wooden covers made their way to Israel, they said, although the covers had been sawed into two parts suggesting smugglers may have needed to conceal the items in a standard-size suitcase.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the confiscated covers are being held in its climate-controlled laboratory in Jerusalem.

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