The cigar box contained a note which revealed that it was a genuine Egyptian artefact as the owner had it confirmed from the curator of antiquities at the Cairo Museum, from whom he obtained the artefact in 1913.
This startling discovery was further compounded by the mystery of how it came to the museum. There was no documentary evidence for the artefact except that it was acquired in 1913, then found in our stores in 2013. The rest is a real mystery.
Origins aside it was decided that as it was obtained by an illegal and unfair transaction, as well as being considerably outside of our collecting area of South Somerset, that it should be offered back to Egypt, who very warmly accepted our offer. In fact they were so pleased by the offer that they requested a meeting to receive the statuette and extend their thanks.
So on Thursday 13 June, Clare Robinson and Benedict Sayers of CHAC attended the Egyptian Consulate in London to meet with the Egyptian Ambassador and to repatriate the Shabti which now resides with its rightful owners.
Councillor Sylvia Seal, portfolio holder for Leisure & Culture said, “Our CHAC team were amazed to discover such a fascinating object amongst their collection in the stores and took a great deal of time and care to investigate the Shabti.
“The Egyptian Consulate was very grateful for the return of the Shabti. Clare and Benedict were honoured to be invited to formally hand the item over and we are pleased that it now is in the hands of its rightful owners.”