Customs officers collaborated with experts at the University of Memphis Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology to assess the item. They determined it is the lid of a canopic jar, which were used to hold mummies’ internal organs. The lid was sculpted in the likeness of the funeral deity, Imsety, who helped protect the deceased’s liver after their death.
Experts dated the lid back to the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, according to the release. The period fell between 1069 BC and 653 BC, so the lid is potentially as old as 3,000 years.
The lid is protected under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act of 1983, which restricts the import of certain archaeological and ethnological materials into the US.
Customs officials seized the artifact after the shipper made conflicting statements about its value, the release explained.
The lid was then turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for further examination.