NEW ORLEANS – On Wednesday, August 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port of Memphis, TN intercepted an ancient Egyptian artifact shipped from Europe. The shipment was manifested as an antique stone sculpture over 100 years old, and sent from a dealer to a private buyer in the U.S.
CBP worked with subject matter experts at the University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology to determine that the artifact was authentic. It is an Egyptian canopic jar lid of the funeral deity named Imsety. Canopic jars were used to hold the internal organs of mummies and Imsety specifically protected the deceased’s liver. The lid is likely from the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, 1069 BC to 653 BC, making it potentially 3,000 years old.
The artifact is on a list of items protected by bilateral treaties and falls under the CPIA 19 USC 2609; designated archaeological materials of cultural property imported into the U.S. subject to seizure and forfeiture. CPIA is the congressionally passed Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act of 1983, and restricts importing some archaeological and ethnological materials into the country. The shipper also made contradictory statements regarding the declared value of the item, and CBP seized it. It was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for further examination and to determine it’s provenance.
The New Orleans Field Office covers ports of entry throughout the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee.