Spain returns smuggled figurines, funeral jars to Egypt

MADRID, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Spain returned 36 stolen antiquities to Egyptian officials on Monday, including figurines of gods and goddesses and ancient jars meant to hold human remains.

The artefacts - among them a granite carving of the lion's head of the warrior goddess Sekhmet - were taken illegally from archaeological sites, officials said.

Smugglers brought them to Spain where police seized then after an investigation in 2014.

Egypt's ambassador to Spain, Youssef Diaeldin Mekkawy, received them at a ceremony at the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid.

"The recovery of these 36 archaeological pieces is a successful operation that has lasted years, an operation coordinated between Egyptian and Spanish authorities," he said.

The artefacts, worth more than 150,000 euros ($170,000), were all probably looted from sites at Saqqara and Mit Rahina, Spanish police said.

Egypt and other states have stepped up campaigns for the return of artefacts taken by smugglers or looted by imperial powers.

($1 = 0.8855 euros)

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Fran Orellana, editing by Andrei Khalip and Andrew Heavens

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