US museum to hand back Tutankhamun treasure trove
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will return 19 artefacts taken from the tomb of the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun.
The trove was made up of small figurines and jewellery, including a miniature bronze dog, a sphinx-shaped bracelet ornament and a necklace, said antiquities chief Zahi Hawass.
"Thanks to the generosity and ethical behaviour of the Met, these 19 objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun can now be reunited with the other treasures of the boy king," Mr Hawass said.
He said the items would return to Egypt next year and become part of the permanent King Tutankhamun collection at the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which is under construction near the Giza pyramids and is scheduled to open in 2012.
The antiquities authority said the pieces were sent to New York in 1948 when the Metropolitan Museum closed its expedition house in Egypt.
The decision to repatriate the objects comes after an extensive examination of the validity of their origin. In a statement on the Metropolitan Museum website, director Thomas Campbell said all of the items were from the Tutankhamun tomb and Egypt's claim on the antiquities was justified.
"Because of precise legislation relating to that excavation, these objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the government of Egypt," he said.
British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, when it was common practice for archaeologists to keep some or all of their own findings.
Some of the pieces in this collection were handed down through a niece of Carter and his estate in Luxor, which he left entirely to the Metropolitan Museum.
King Tutankhamun is one of history's most famous pharaohs because archaeologists found his tomb full of glittering wealth of the rich 18th Dynasty (1569-1315BC). This year, DNA tests and CT scans on his 3,300-year-old mummy confirmed that the pharaoh died of a broken leg complicated by malaria at the age of 19.