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Owlscrying

hair of Ramses II returns to Egyptian Museum

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Apr. 10

CAIRO, Egypt - Locks of 3,200-year-old hair from the pharaoh Ramses II were unveiled at the Egyptian Museum on Tuesday, returned to Egypt after being stolen 30 years ago in France and put up for sale on the Internet.

The small tufts of brown hair were displayed alongside pieces of linen bandages and 11 pieces of resin used in the mummification of Ramses and his son Merneptah in a glass display case. Photographers mobbed the case as Egypt's culture minister and antiquities chief showed off the returned items.

The hair will eventually be put on display next to Ramses' mummy at the museum.

The theft of the items was discovered when the pieces of hair were put up for sale on a Web site last November by a French postman, Jean-Michel Diebolt, who gave the hair a price tag of $2,600.

Diebolt is the son of a French researcher who examined the 3,200-year-old mummy when it was brought to France in 1976 for treatment to stop the spread of a rare fungus. Diebolt is being investigated in France for allegedly possessing stolen goods.

Ramses II, who ruled from 1270 to 1213 B.C., is one of ancient Egypt's most famous pharaohs, known for building some of its grandest monuments. Some believe him to be the pharaoh at the time of Moses.

Egypt's antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, said the retrieval of the items was made possible by the strong diplomatic relations between Egypt and France.

Hawass has sought - without success - the return of such finds as the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, the bust of Nefertiti at Berlin's Egyptian Museum and a pharaonic mask at the St. Louis Art Museum.

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