US agents seize antique Egyptian artifact that could potentially be 3,000 years old

Officers in Memphis say they intercepted an ancient Egyptian artifact that was being shipped...
Officers in Memphis say they intercepted an ancient Egyptian artifact that was being shipped into the U.S. from Europe.(U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Published: Aug. 26, 2022 at 6:13 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Gray News) - Customs and Border officers say they came across an ancient find when checking a recent shipment from Europe.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, officers at the port of Memphis intercepted an Egyptian artifact Aug. 17 that was being sent to a private buyer in the U.S.

Authorities said the shipment was noted as an antique stone sculpture that was over 100 years old. However, after further inspection, the item is believed to be potentially 3,000 years old.

According to the CBP, its team worked with experts at the University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology. The artifact was deemed authentic and identified as an Egyptian canopic jar lid of the funeral deity Imsety.

Officials said canopic jars were used to hold the internal organs of mummies, with ones featuring Imsety specifically protecting the deceased’s liver. The lid is likely from the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, 1069 B.C. to 653 B.C.

CBP officials said the artifact is on a list of items protected by bilateral treaties and subject to seizure and forfeiture. The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act of 1983 restricts importing some archaeological and ethnological materials into the country.

Authorities said the shipper also made contradictory statements regarding the declared value of the item, and officers seized the sculpture before turning it over to Homeland Security Investigations for further examination.