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Operation Mummy's Curse: Photos of Smuggled Artifacts

Mummy hand

This cloth-wrapped mummy's hand was one of the more unusual objects to be returned to Egypt as part of Operation Mummy's Curse.

This cloth-wrapped mummy's hand was one of the more unusual objects to be returned to Egypt as part of Operation Mummy's Curse.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

Five ancient artifacts that had been smuggled into the United States were returned to Egyptian authorities this week. U.S. officials recovered the cultural objects in an investigation called "Operation Mummy’s Curse."

Among the more unusual objects to be returned to Egypt was this cloth-wrapped mummy's hand. [Read the full story on the smuggled artifacts]

Artifact return

The artifacts were repatriated to the Egyptian government in a ceremony at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday (Dec. 1).

The artifacts were repatriated to the Egyptian government in a ceremony at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday (Dec. 1).
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

The artifacts were repatriated to the Egyptian government in a ceremony at the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C., on Thursday (Dec. 1).

The real thing

This mummy hand, from the eighth century B.C., had been smuggled into the United States from Egypt.

This mummy hand, from the eighth century B.C., had been smuggled into the United States from Egypt.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

The investigation showed that it was really an Egyptian mummy's hand, dating back to the eighth century B.C. [Read the full story on the smuggled artifacts]

Intricate coffins

Two painted wooden sarcophagi were also among the objects returned to their country of origin.

Two painted wooden sarcophagi were also among the objects returned to their country of origin.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

Two painted wooden sarcophagi were also among the objects returned to their country of origin. They included a nesting sarcophagus seized from a garage in Brooklyn as well as an intricately painted coffin.

Movie prop?

When the hand arrived in a package at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013, it was listed as a sci-fi movie prop worth $66, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

When the hand arrived in a package at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013, it was listed as a sci-fi movie prop worth $66, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

When the hand arrived in a package at Los Angeles International Airport in 2013, it was listed as a sci-fi movie prop worth $66, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Cursed objects

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has been running "Operation Mummy's Curse" since 2009 to bust a network of antiquities smugglers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has been running "Operation Mummy's Curse" since 2009 to bust a network of antiquities smugglers.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has been running "Operation Mummy's Curse" since 2009 to bust a network of antiquities smugglers.

Thousands of repatriations

Through the investigation, ICE officials say they have recovered about 7,000 artifacts. The five Egyptian objects are the latest to be returned to their country of origin.

Through the investigation, ICE officials say they have recovered about 7,000 artifacts. The five Egyptian objects are the latest to be returned to their country of origin.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

Through the investigation, ICE officials say they have recovered about 7,000 artifacts. The five Egyptian objects are the latest to be returned to their country of origin. [Read the full story on the smuggled artifacts]

History comes alive

Another object returned to Egypt as part of Operation Mummy's Curse.

Another object returned to Egypt as part of Operation Mummy's Curse.
(Image credit: Josh Denmark/ICE)

"Each of the artifacts returned today tells a story — a human story, our story," Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said in a statement. "History comes alive when someone is able to not only read about the past, but is also able to visit the historical sites, watch and enjoy the artifacts, appreciate the images and see the actual writings of our ancestors."