Security guards foiled an attempt to steal an antique panel depicting King Merenptah, the fourth ruler of the 19th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, in the Selsela mountain quarries 20 kilometers north of Kom Ombo, Aswan.
Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Ali announced on Wednesday that four people were seen attempting to steal the piece, and were immediately detained by security guards in the area.
The tools they used in their excavations were seized, a report of the incident was filed and the four suspects were referred to the prosecution.
The tourism and antiquities police were notified of the incident.
The minister added that security was tightened in the area and the guards were rewarded for arresting the suspects.
Abdel Hamid Maarouf, the head of Egyptian Antiquities Sector, said the work, which measures 120 centimeters by 90 centimeters, was a sculptural panel carved using the bas-relief technique.
It features King Merenptah presenting Mayet, the goddess of justice, to Amun-Ra as well as some hieroglyphic inscriptions.
Abdel Moneim Samir, director general of the Kom Ombo tourist area, said the lower part of the panel currently has some holes and scratches as a result of the attempted theft and will be restored.
Edited translation from MENA