Egypt has repatriated an artefact that had been illegally smuggled to the UK and put up for auction, the country’s Antiquities Ministry has announced.
The relief with cartouche of King Amenhotep I from the 18th dynasty had been on display at a London auction house.
The Antiquities Ministry said the relief was originally exhibited at the open museum of the ancient temple of Karnak in the city of Luxor, but did not explain how it came to be removed.
The Egyptian Embassy in London received the artefact in September, according to the ministry’s statement on Tuesday.
Egypt has drastically stepped up efforts in recent years to stop the trafficking of its antiquities. It has recovered 1000 in the past two years, including 586 in 2017, and has warned foreign museums that it will not help them mount exhibits on ancient Egyptian sites unless they return smuggled artefacts.
Amenhotep I, who probably acceded to the throne around 1526 BC, ruled for 21 years and ordered an expansion of the Karnak Temple.
The site of Karnak, a mix of towering columns, chapels and other buildings, is Egypt’s second most popular tourist destination after the Giza Pyramids.
The Antiquities Ministry did not specify where the relief would eventually be exhibited.