Illegal trader: High-profile figures buy Egyptian artifacts

The process of the illicit trade ends with selling the ancient relics abroad

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Getting into the world of illegally traded ancient artifacts is not an easy task.

An illegal trader, who agreed to talk to Al Arabiya News Channel under the condition of anonymity, revealed some of the secrets of how these artifacts are smuggled.

The process of the illicit trade begins with clandestine excavations, and ends with selling of these artifacts in auctions or to collectors and museums abroad.

“Only stupid people get caught. Most of the time, people who have great power in the country are the ones who buy artifacts from us,” the artifact trader revealed.

The trader, who allowed Al Arabiya to film his stock of illegal artifacts on sale, said every smuggled artifact loses about 70 percent of its value.

“An artifact like this one, which I sell now for $718 used to be worth $7186, and it wasn’t easy to find such a piece.”

However, the anonymous trader’s artifacts are not all real.

Monica Hanna, an Egyptologist, said while the trader's artifacts ranged from pieces dating from over 2,500 years, some are simply counterfeits.

Some traders try to find archeological sites by using an instrument called Geo-sonar, which they can purchase online.

But some more traditional traders, commonly known as sheikhs, claim they contact spirits in order to find archaeological sites and digging places.

“There is a spirit [in] in this place. He usually is at the doorstep of the tomb of the Guard,” said one man, who kept his identity anonymous, told Al Arabiya News Channel.

Despite efforts by Egyptian citizens and security forces to retrieve the stolen artifacts, these ancient relics remain in illicit circulation in a country that is still politically instable.

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