A stolen fragment of a 3,400-year-old stone statue of Ramesses II was returned to the Egyptian government by the Swiss official in charge of culture, Carine Bachmann, in a ceremony at the Egyptian embassy in Bern on Monday.
The fragment was part of a group statue showing the pharaoh sitting with assembled ancient Egyptian gods and was stolen from Ramesses II’s temple complex in the sacred city of Abydos in the late 1980s or early 1990s, according to a statement from the Swiss culture ministry. The ministry said the stone fragment was imported to Switzerland after stops in a number of other countries and was recovered in the course of criminal proceedings in the canton of Geneva.
The restitution “underlines Switzerland’s and Egypt’s shared commitment in the fight against the illegal trafficking of heritage, which was strengthened by a bilateral agreement on the import and return of cultural heritage in 2011,” the statement said.
Ramesses II (around 1303 BC-1213 BC), also known as Ramesses the Great, is considered one of the most powerful and greatest leaders of the New Kingdom of Egypt and is believed to have lived until at least the age of 90.