The U.S. will return to Egypt a 3,000 year old wooden sarcophagus confiscated at the Miami airport after being shipped from Barcelona, the Culture Ministry announced Monday.
The brightly painted sarcophagus dates back to the 21st Dynasty (1070-945 B.C.) and belonged to a private individual called Imesy, said the statement, though last year antiquities head Zahi Hawass linked it to a pharaoh called Ames.
Customs officials at Miami International Airport seized the coffin in October 2008 from a shipment coming from Spain after the importer could not present the proper documentation to prove ownership.
In the ensuing investigation, U.S. authorities determined the sarcophagus had left Egypt some time after 1970 and was later exhibited in Madrid in 2007.
Egypt sued to have the coffin returned in November 2009 and the importer dropped its claim.
Hawass will travel to Washington, D.C. March 10 to officially receive the sarcophagus.
Thousands of antiquities were spirited out of the country during Egypt's colonial period and afterward by archaeologists, adventurers and thieves.
Hawass has made recovering the stolen artifacts the centerpiece of his tenure as antiquities chief.