Ancient Egyptian artifact seized by federal agents in Tennessee

·1 min read

A stone sculpture that arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this month was discovered to be a centuries-old artifact from Egypt. After properly identifying the object, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers confiscated it, according to a statement from the agency.

Paperwork for the artifact, which arrived from Europe on Aug. 17, reported the object was over 100 years old. It was being sent from a dealer to a private buyer within the U.S., the statement said.

However, in consultation with the University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, CBP officers determined the ancient artifact was authentic — and that it could be up to 3,000 years old, the statement said.

According to the statement, the object is an "Egyptian canopic jar lid of the funeral deity named Imsety." The jars typically held mummies' internal organs — and in this case, the jar held Imsety's liver. Authorities believe it was made sometime between 1069 B.C. and 653 B.C.

This Egyptian canopic jar lid, which was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Tennessee, could be up to 3,000 years old. / Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
This Egyptian canopic jar lid, which was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Tennessee, could be up to 3,000 years old. / Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

CBP said in the statement its officers seized the jar after determining that it was protected by bilateral treaties as well as a 1983 law that "restricts importing some archaeological and ethnological materials into the country."

In addition, the statement said the shipper made "contradictory statements regarding the declared value of the item," which led to the seizure.

The jar was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, which would examine it further, CBP said.

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