Federal agents seized a millennia-old ancient Egyptian artifact in Memphis last week that was imported from Europe. United States Customs and Border Protection said they intercepted the shipment of the 3,000-year-old funerary canopic jar lid named after the deity Imsety on August 17.
The agency says the item was sent from a dealer to a private buyer in the U.S. The ancient jars from which experts believe the lid derives are known to have been used to store mummified remains.
Authorities tapped experts at the University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology to identify the artifact’s origins. The agency says the lid was likely produced between 1069 B.C. to 653 B.C. The lid, of a size not disclosed by authorities, is sculpted to depict the head of the funerary god, Imsety, whose role in Egyptian mythology is to protect the liver of a deceased person.
In a statement, customs officials say the artifact is protected by bilateral treaties around the import of archaeological materials. Authorities seized the item under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act of 1983.
According to the office’s statement, the shipper, whose identity and location have not been disclosed, submitted “contradictory” statements regarding the item’s value. It was subsequently seized and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for further examination.