Museum of the Bible Returns Over 5,000 Artifacts to Egypt

It's the culmination of several years of negotiations

The Museum of the Bible's invitation only grand opening in Washington, DC.
A view of the exterior at the Museum of the Bible's invitation only grand opening on November, 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Since the Museum of the Bible opened in 2017, it’s found itself in a relatively unique position among American museums — one which leaves it with a number of challenges over and above what most of its counterparts face. Some of the artifacts in the museum’s collection were revealed as fakes, which has led the museum to raise its own standards.

This hasn’t just involved questions of research, either. The most recent development for the museum, reports Helen Holmes at the Observer, involves a large group of ancient artifacts that it recently returned to Egypt. Over 5,000 artifacts, to be more precise.

At issue here is whether or not the artifacts should have been taken out of the country in the first place. 2011 was a tumultuous time for Egypt, and in the midst of the upheaval taking place around the country, a number of historically valuable artifacts went missing. The Observer‘s article notes that the US Department of Homeland Security has been working since then to help rectify this.

Egypt Independent points out that the return of these artifacts was 2 years in the making, with Homeland Security helping to work out the arrangement between the Museum of the Bible and Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The article also gives a sense of what the artifacts in question include: “5,000 manuscripts and pieces of papyrus with text written in the Coptic language, hieratic and demotic script, and the Greek language.”

It’s been a long and circuitous path, but — thankfully — countless historical items are back where they originated, and in safe hands.

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