New York museum to return King Tut artefacts to Egypt

image captionThe objects, including this sphinx bracelet jewel, were "illegally exported", an Egyptian official said

A New York museum is to repatriate to Egypt 19 items found in King Tutankhamun's tomb, officials said.

The 19 artefacts, including a tiny bronze dog and a sphinx bracelet jewel, were discovered in the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Under the terms of the British-led excavation, the tomb's contents were not to leave Egypt's possession, the museum said on Wednesday.

The boy-pharaoh's tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter.

'Illegal export'

"These objects were never meant to have left Egypt, and therefore should rightfully belong to the government of Egypt," Thomas Campbell, director of the museum, said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, described the move as a "wonderful gesture" and said the objects had been "illegally exported".

The artefacts are to be displayed in Times Square in New York City, then will be shown again at the Metropolitan Museum, then will be returned to Egypt in June.

Researchers at the museum concluded the objects, which came into the museum's collection between the 1920s and 1940s, had originated in King Tutankhamun's tomb by examining tomb records and probate accounts.

Tutankhamun reigned from about 1336 to 1327BC, when scientists believe he died of malaria. The tomb was discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings and excavated over the next decade.

At the time, Egyptian authorities decided none of the artefacts from the tomb should leave Egyptian control.

The pieces came into the museum's collection from Mr Carter's niece and from his house in Luxor, Egypt, which he bequeathed to the museum, the museum said.

The museum described 15 of the returning artefacts as "bits or samples".

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