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Ancient Egyptian Child’s Coffin Returned To Swedish Museum From USA

An ancient Egyptian coffin has been returned to Sweden after going missing in the 1960s and resurfacing in the USA in 1985.

Cairo Scene

Ancient Egyptian Child’s Coffin Returned To Swedish Museum From USA

After a mysterious theft in the late 1960s, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, USA, has returned an ancient Egyptian child’s coffin to the Uppsala University Museum in Sweden.

According to an announcement by the MFA, an investigation began when their own curatorial staff found an excavation image of the coffin in a 2008 publication titled ‘Unseen Images: Archive Photographs in the Petrie Museum’, which claimed that the coffin was unearthed in 1920 by British archaeologists at Gurob, Egypt. It was then sent to the Victoria Museum of Egyptian Antiquities at Uppsala University in 1922, now known as the Uppsala Museum. This information contradicted the MFA’s official acquisition records, triggering the investigation.

The clay coffin, believed to date back somewhere between 1295 BC and 1186 BC, is 43 inches long and features the image of a boy named Paneferneb. A blue and yellow striped headdress adorns his face, which is painted red, like his crossed hands. Eyes, lotus flowers, jackals and hieroglyphics adorn the coffin's exterior, alongside Nut, the goddess of the sky, and Osiris, the god of the underworld.

Paneferneb’s coffin is said to have mysteriously gone missing by 1970, and then resurfaced in 1985 when it was sold to the MFA by an Olof S. Liden, who claimed to represent the artist Eric Ståhl. Liden presented a forged letter purporting that it was Ståhl who originally excavated the coffin, in Amada, Egypt in 1937, as well as falsified documents to authenticate it. When the MFA noted the discrepancy in the chain of custody, they began work to correct the mistake, ultimately leading to the safe return of the coffin to Sweden.

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