An Ancient Ramses II Bust Returned to Egypt

An Ancient Ramses II Bust Returned to Egypt, Following Its Theft and Smuggling Out of the Nation Over 30 Years Ago.

Apr 25, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
An Ancient Ramses II
The bust. Photo: the Egyptian Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities.


An ancient Ramses II bust returned to Egypt, following its theft and smuggling out of the nation over 30 years ago. Currently, the statue is at Cairo’s National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Also, it is set up for expert restoration. There aren’t any official announcements whether, or when it will be put on exhibit for tourists.


An Ancient Ramses II Bust First Noticed in 2013

An Ancient Ramses II
Exterior and facade of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images.


The thoughts are the stone bust disappeared sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s. It appeared in a London exhibition in 2013. Sales of the sculpture took place during the display. According to the Egyptian ministry of antiquities, it travelled through other nations before ending up in Switzerland once more, and seized as part of “criminal proceedings.”


Egypt declared official possession of the bust in Switzerland. Also, In July of last year, the Egyptian embassy in Bern received the sculpture from the Swiss Federal Office of Culture. Shaaban Abdel Gawad, the head of Egypt-s antiquities reparation department, said that the bust is “part of a group of statues depicting King Ramses II seated alongside a number of Egyptian deities.”.


tomb userhat chariot egyptian, An Ancient Ramses II
From The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ramses II on a chariot battle of Kadesh relieF.


Rumors say somebody stole the bust from the Abydos Temple of Seti I. This is one of Egypt’s oldest cities, built in the 13th century B.C.E. by Pharaoh Seti I, the father of Ramses II. At the age of 25, Ramses II, often known as Ramses the Great, assumed the throne. He ruled from 1279 to 1213 B.C.E.

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Numerous Institutions Facing Calls to Return Artifacts

Seti and Ramses II Abydos temple, Seti I tomb relief.
Young Ramses behind his father Seti I, Abydos temple. Seti I, relief in the Louvre museum. One of Seti’s titles was ‘Bringer of Renaissance.


He received praise for both his skill as a military commander and the significant construction projects he oversaw during his rule. He restored a number of old temples, such as the complexes of temples at Abu Simbel and Ramesseum. Also, he established Pi-Ramesses as Egypt’s new capital, later abandoned in 1060 BCE.


On April 22, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities released a statement. The institution said the return of the piece to Egypt was through the “joint cooperation” of Egypt and Switzerland “in the field of combating illicit trafficking”. The artefact turned up following “tireless efforts” by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, according to Muhammad Ismail Klahed, Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.


painted relief osiris isis
Painted relief of Osiris and Isis in Temple of Seti I at Abydos.


This incident occurs at a time when numerous important American and European institutions are facing calls to return historic artefacts, taken from other countries. And investigations into the involvement of criminal gangs in the trafficking of ancient artifacts are once again making international headlines.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.