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HomeAncient CoinsCultural Property Enforcement - Ancient Artifact Smuggling Now "Impossible" in Egypt

Cultural Property Enforcement – Ancient Artifact Smuggling Now “Impossible” in Egypt

Army special forces stand at the entrance to the Egyptian Museum

By Wayne SaylesAncient Coin Collecting Blog …..

A Cairo Post article of June 21, 2015 just came to our attention and seemed worthy of sharing. The piece, entitled “Antique coins smuggling attempt foiled by Cairo airport authorities”, heralds the arrest of an Italian passenger bound for London. The “foiled attempt” was confirmed to Cairo Post by Cairo airport Security Director Major General Ayman Abdel Fatah. Five coins identified as “antique” Egyptian artifacts were reportedly confiscated after being inspected and authenticated by archaeological unit officials onsite. A photograph of the coins accompanied the article is shown here.egypt_seized

Ahmed Rawy, head of the Archaeological Unit for Confiscated Antiquities (AUCA) is quoted by Cairo Post as saying, “This is not the first attempt to smuggle ancient Egyptian artifacts and it will not be the last.” He allegedly added that due to strict security measures at the 40 archaeological units at Egyptian ports of entry, “it is no longer possible to smuggle any of Egypt’s archaeological heritage out of the country.” This news will undoubtedly be well received at the U.S. State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center in Washington, DC, where concerns about illegal export of cultural property from Egypt have been elevated in recent years.

Photo Caption: – Two of the 5 seized “Egyptian Coins” verified as ancient artifacts by archaeological unit officials

While we have no further indication of actions taken against the accused, the trauma of police arrest in a foreign country must have been considerable. Assuming that the coins photographed are the coins seized, someone better trained than those involved in the arrest and seizure hopefully realized that they are in fact not ancient, not Egyptian and therefore not relevant to Egypt’s 1973 Antiquities Protection Law. Perhaps the moral of this story is that when visiting Egypt, travel light, and don’t carry any coins or amulets from India while you’re there.

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Wayne Sayles
Wayne Sayles
Retiring in 1982 from the U.S. Air Force, Wayne earned a MA degree in Art History at the Univ. of Wisconsin. In 1986, he founded The Celator — a monthly journal about ancient coins. He co-authored "Turkoman Figural Bronze Coins and Their Iconography" (2 vols.) and wrote the six vol. series "Ancient Coin Collecting" (3 are in expanded 2nd ed.), the monograph "Classical Deception" and the exhibition catalogue for the Griner collection of ancient coins at Ball State University. He wrote the "Coin Collecting" article and revised the main "Coins" article for Encyclopaedia Britannica. Wayne is a Life Fellow of the ANS; Fellow of the RNS (London); Life Member of the Hellenic Numismatic Society (Athens); Life Member of AINS; and member of numerous other numismatic organizations including the American Numismatic Association and the Numismatic Literary Guild. He is the founder and current Executive Director of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, has lectured extensively, written more than 200 articles about ancient coinage, and is a recipient of the "Numismatic Ambassador" award from Krause Publications. He is a biographee in Marquis, "Who's Who in America" and in "Who's Who in the World".

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