By: Jason Burch San Antonio Express News
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Laredo earlier this month seized two stolen 2,500-year-old Egyptian funeral masks.
A pair of cartonnages — decorated layers of papyrus or fiber laid over a mummy — raised flags with agents inspecting a shipment of Egyptian statues, according to a news release. The agents contacted the Import Special Enforcement Team.
“Laredo ISET had recently been made aware of possible stolen artifacts of Egyptian origin and contacted Laredo (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for further investigation,” according to the news release. “Laredo (ICE) contacted the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities and discovered that the artifacts, two sarcophagi, one adorned with a wooden mask with glass eyes and the other with a standing lady of painted stucco over linen, were indeed antiquities and the rightful property of Egypt.”
The two artifacts “appear to be from the Minya period, which would place their approximate age from 664-323 B.C.,” said CBP spokesman Rick Pauza.
ICE seized the cartonnages, and has begun the process of returning them to the Egyptian government, according to the news release.
The objects are “priceless,” according to the news release.
And there were no mummies underneath them, Pauza said.