Ancient Egyptian artefacts on India tour soon

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Vilas Tokale

Mumbai, Feb 20 (PTI) Relics from Tutankhamun tomb areamong a magnificent array of objects that will travel to Indiafrom Egypt for a mega archaeological exhibition, which wouldprovide a peek into the rich history and culture of theAfrican nation known for its spectacular pyramids.

"We have the approval to bring artefacts from theNational Museum in Cairo to India. In the coming weeks, wewill work on selection of articles and finalisation of datesand places for the exhibition," Egypt''s Ambassador to IndiaKhaled El Bakly told PTI.

"We are working on a big exhibition of artefacts. TheNational Museum has over 50,000 artefacts...Indians may get achance to see some of them next year," he said.

On the pieces which will be brought to India, he said,"We will identify them together" and "promised" to bring onefrom the collection of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun (1341BC�1323 BC).

However, Bakly was non-committal on bringing the mask ofTutankhamun''s mummy, a popular icon for ancient Egypt, in thewake of the Egyptian government declaring the precious articleas "too fragile to withstand travel".

Relics from Tutankhamun''s tomb are among the mosttravelled artifacts in the world. The ''Treasures ofTutankhamun'' tour ran from 1972 to 1979 across the world.

On the dwindling number of tourists in Egypt in the wakeof the recent unrest there, Bakly said, "We are askingtourists to visit the nation. It (the movement that oustedPresident Hosni Mubarak) was a domestic issue. It was nottargeted against foreigners. We wanted to change the regimeand we have done so."

"We have added Tahrir Square (the spot in Cairo wherethousands of Egyptians had demonstrated, demanding an end toMubarak''s 30-year-old rule) in the list of tourist sites," theEgyptian envoy said.

"Egypt''s tourist attractions will never change. Theyare historical and heritage sites. They are the same," hesaid, adding over 1.14 lakh Indians visited Egypt last year.

"People have started cleaning the places where theystaged demonstrations. Now there is a campaign to boost theeconomy, stock market and foreign reserves," Bakly said. PTIVT RSY

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