The Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday – four days before Jews recall the Exodus from Egypt – that it seized two stolen lids of ancient Egyptian coffins smuggled from Egypt to Jerusalem’s Old City via Dubai.
The coffin lids were discovered several months ago during a raid on antique stores in the Old City, but no announcement was made until Tuesday.
The elaborate plastered lids are decorated with paintings and hieroglyphics.
Antiquities Authority experts dated the coffin lids from between 2,900 and 3,500 years ago, a period that includes the 210 years that Jews descended from Israel, then known as Canaan, to Egypt, where they later were subject to slavery.
Officials estimate that the lids were stolen from a coffin containing a mummy and were smuggled from Egypt to Europe, and then to Dubai and Israel. The coffin lids suffered damage because the smugglers cut the lids in half.
Egypt has asked Israel to return the lids, and the smuggler probably chose Israel as their destination in order to revive official authentication of their antiquity so they could sell them at a higher price.