Customs officials at the Cairo International Airport have intercepted the severed limbs of two ancient mummies hidden inside a hallowed-out loudspeaker.
The thwarted smuggler had packed the sound system within his luggage on a flight bound for Belgium. Egyptian officials have not yet named the passenger, nor have they announced any possible charges. The package included “parts of the foot, right and left leg, left hand, upper part of the right arm adhering to part of the thoracic cage of the second mummy, as well as the lower part of the left hand of the same mummy,” according to a statement released by Iman Abdel-Raouf, director general of the archeological ports.
Airport employees stopped the shipment when an X-ray scan revealed what suspiciously looked like body parts. Upon notice, Egypt’s Central Department of Ports and Antiquities convened a special committee to carefully recover the mummies from the loudspeaker. The Ministry of Antiquities says that the ancient relics will be brought to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo where a team of archaeologists will inspect the remains and conserve them.
Experts say that the smuggling of Egyptian artifacts has increased since the 2011 Arab Spring. According to the nonprofit Antiquities Coalition, the country has lost an estimated $3 billion to illegal smuggling.
Just two weeks ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it would return its prized first-century BCE gilded coffin to Egypt after evidence suggested that it was looted during the revolution eight years ago. The museum had purchased the artifact in 2017 for €3.5 million (~$3.95 million) from an art dealer in Paris named Christophe Kunicki.