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EGYPT: Historic sites to reopen Sunday; statue recovered

February 17, 2011 | 12:08 pm

Statue Egypt said it will reopen historic sites to tourism Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

On Thursday, government officials also announced that they had recovered one of the most important artifacts stolen from Cairo's Egyptian Museum during recent unrest: a rare statue of King Tut's father.

The statue depicts the standing pharaoh with a blue crown, holding an offering table in his hands.

Egypt's antiquities ministry released a statement Thursday saying a youth found the statue, which has an alabaster base, next to a garbage can. His mother contacted her brother, a professor at the American University of Cairo who, in turn, contacted officials to arrange the statue's return Wednesday.

The statue, which stands about a foot tall, will undergo restoration before being displayed again.

Elsewhere in Egypt, additional break-ins and damage were reported at archaeological sites Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Zahi Hawass, head of the antiquities ministry, has reported a total of 18 missing museum artifacts, three of which were found on the museum grounds, possibly abandoned by looters making their escape, according to the Associated Press.

The antiquities ministry cited Sabry Abdel-Aziz, head of its pharaonic sector, as saying the tomb of Hetep-Ka, in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara, was broken into and a false door was stolen along with objects stored in the tomb. Also, a portion of a false door was looted from the tomb of Re-Hotep in Abusir, the ministry said.

Many archaeological storehouses were also targeted for break-ins during the weeks of political upheaval, including ones in Saqqara, and ministry officials were still trying to determine Thursday what, if anything, was missing, the Associated Press reported.

The ministry also said the Egyptian military caught thieves attempting to loot the sites of Tell el-Basta, and a tomb in Lischt.

"There have also been many reports of attacks on archaeological lands through the building of houses and illegal digging," the ministry's Thursday statement said.

After police and government officials met to discuss security, Hawass announced that "all of the Pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic, and modern sites will reopen to the public" on Sunday, according to the ministry statement. The pyramids of Giza were already open.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske