Archaeology experts in Kuwait are “almost certain” that a stone coffin lid found smuggled inside a sofa dates back to the time of the Pharaohs.
The artifact was discovered earlier this month at the Kuwait Airways cargo terminal as officers scanned a shipment of office furniture that had come from Egypt.
The 170cm-long piece, which looks like a statue, is carved from stone and depicts a figure with an elaborate headdress. It had been expertly concealed within a sofa.
A team of four specialists from Kuwait and four from Egypt will examine the item, including experts from Cairo University and Assiut University.
A high-level source at the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters of Kuwait (NCCAL) said that experts were almost certain the antique dates to the Pharaonic era.
NCCAL sources said that the antique would be sent back to Egypt if Egyptian experts agree with their findings. This is part of a movement by Kuwait to prevent the illegal smuggling of antiquities from foreign countries.
A Kuwaiti official announced in a short video that the authorities had found the Egyptian coffin and that they would communicate with Egyptian officials soon.
A source at the Egyptian airport confirmed the sofa was shipped from the airport by a certified and registered company. Airport authorities are investigating how the item made it through customs.
Shaaban Abdel Gawad, head of the Department of Recovered Antiquities, told Arab News: “We have not yet sent anyone from Egypt to examine the smuggled artifact. However, a committee of Egyptian archaeologists who live in Kuwait examined the artifact on Thursday.”
He added: “The primary reports of the committee state that the artifact needs to first be professionally cleaned as they are unable to identify its features.”
Abdel Gawad said both the Ministry of Antiquities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were working together to discuss with their Kuwaiti counterparts the logistics of sending the artifact back to Egypt.
“We do not know when Egypt will receive this piece. However, once we receive it, it will be examined in Egypt and a detailed report will be issued.”
The department said that the piece was likely to be examined inside the laboratories of Al-Tahrir Museum in Cairo. The study would require the use of carbon-14, a radioactive isotope used to trace the age of an artifact, to examine the coffin and its colors.