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Security forces seized 40 pieces that make up the top parts of Pharaonic Shawabti figurines, an Egyptian security source said on Thursday. The artifacts were stolen from the Cairo University excavation warehouses located in the archeological Saqqara region in Giza.
Investigations revealed that the suspects were surreptitiously digging and drilling then burying the figurine pieces in the sand until they could be sold.
A source said that following investigations, a number of search teams were formed which were dispatched to the site in order to search for the stolen figurine pieces. The 40 faience pieces covered in Pharaonic inscriptions were found buried in the sand, along with a 48 centimeter long limestone door, and two reliefs engraved with hieroglyphic text.
The artifacts were examined by Saqqara archeological inspectors who identified the pieces as 40 Shawabti figurine pieces that had been reported stolen last year.
The Antiquities Ministry has complained of the increased number of relic theft attempts in various parts of the country since January 2011.
In February, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said that two percent of relics found in archeological warehouses had been stolen since the outbreak of the 25 January revolution.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm