Egyptian ‘mega-tomb’ uncovered in Saqqara region of Cairo

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The ornaments were sold by a family from Clare, near Sudbury, after they decided to move house. The family had them valued, believing them to be insignificant 18th or 19th-century replicas. They were given a guide price of £300 to £500.

After closer inspection, experts dated them back as far as 5,000 years and so they attracted international attention.

They sold for £195,000 plus a 24 percent buyers premium.

Auctioneer James Mander said: “We were contacted by a local family who were moving house and needed to dispose of stuff from their old garden, which did not fit their new home.”

“The condition was quite poor with heavy wear and various losses.

“They had been repaired by the current owners, using concrete, to fill the missing part under the head of one of the statues.

“They had stood on a garden patio as decoration until last month, when they were consigned to the auction.

‘There was some interest prior to the auction during the viewing, but really we had no indication of their value until the auction began”

The expert, from Mander Auctioneers Ltd, said a bidding war soon commenced.

He added: “The bidding started at £200, and it took fifteen minutes to sell, with competition from four telephone bidders and numerous internet buyers.

“Opinion was that they were genuine Ancient Egyptian examples, which had somehow passed through recent history as 18th-century copies.

“This was an exciting day at the auction, and we were very pleased to inform the vendors who had purchased and enjoyed these as garden ornaments for many years, with no idea of their true value.

“These are one of the highest value lots to be sold at a provincial auction this year.”

The stone statues were heavily weathered and quite damaged, measuring over a metre long.

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According to the family they were bought at a country house sale in East Anglia around fifteen years ago for a few hundred pounds.

The Egyptian sphinx is typically shown as a man with the body of a lion.

The most famous is the Great Sphinx of Giza that stands within the Giza Plateau on the west bank of the Nile.

It is said to have been built to protect Pharaoh Khafre.

The stunning statue is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt and is believed to have been designed, sculpted, and constructed by ancient Egyptians of the Old Kingdom, roughly 4,500 years ago.

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