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Switzerland to return stolen Pharaoh's "eye"

Latest update : 2008-09-10

Switzerland has agreed to return a pharaoh's "eye" which was stolen 36 years ago from the statue of King Amenhotep III (pictured) in Luxor, the Egyptian culture minister announced. The eye had ended up in a museum in Basel.

Switzerland is to return a pharaoh's "eye" stolen 36 years ago from the statue of King Amenhotep III, Egypt's culture minister announced on Wednesday.

"The eye is around 50 centimetres (19 inches) long and was stolen from Amenhotep III's statue, which was discovered in 1970 in his Luxor temple," Faruk Hosni said in a statement.

The eye was stolen in 1972 when a fire broke out around the temple.

"The thieves sold it to an American antiquities dealer who then auctioned it at Sotheby's," he said.

There, the eye was bought by a German antiquities dealer before ending up in a museum in Basel, Switzerland.

"The Swiss museum unconditionally accepted to return the eye of Amenhotep III back to Egypt," antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass said.

Amenhotep III ruled Egypt for about 40 years during the 18th dynasty (1550-1292 BC), believed to be one of the most prosperous periods of ancient Egyptian history.

Date created : 2008-09-10