Relief Fragment from the Tomb of Mutirdis
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Date: Late Period, Dynasty 26 (665-525 BC)
Material: Limestone
Provenance: Thebes, West Bank, Asasif, Tomb of Mutirdis (TT 410)
Excavated: In 1969 by Dr. Dieter Arnold, Dr. Jan Assman, German Archaeological Institute

Status: Repatriated by Bonham's Auction House, Ltd., London in June, 2008

The May 2008 catalogue of Bonham's, an auction house based in London, offered for sale a fragment of limestone relief about 12 inches across, bearing six lines of hieroglyphs that included a cartouche of Nitocris (a royal woman who bore the important title of God's Wife of Amun during this era), in Lot 99 (Sale 15940). Purportedly, an Australian collector had acquired it in the 1940's and given to his son. However, Drs. Dieter Arnold and Adela Oppenheim, curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, recognized the relief as a fragment from the Tomb of Mutirdis, which Dr. Arnold and Dr. Jan Assmann of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo had discovered in 1969 and which had been restored between 1973 and 1974. The relief, in its proper place in the tomb, had even been photographed and published in Assmann's Das Grab der Mutirdis in 1977, but sometime afterward had been illegally removed and smuggled out of Egypt.

Once Dr. Arnold notified the SCA, Dr. Hawass informed Bonham's of the situation and requested that they stop the auction of the piece. Bonham's agreed, and on June 23, 2008, Dr. Youssef Khalifa of the SCA traveled to London to retrieve the fragment. It is now at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

The SCA is still looking for other fragments of relief missing from this tomb.

 

Fragment 1

The fragment from the tomb, as offered for sale

 
Fragment 2
The wall in the tomb, as it looked before looting (from Jan Assmann, Das Grab der Mutirdis)