CAIRO (REUTERS).- Egyptian antiquities authorities have recovered a statue of the renegade Pharaoh Akhenaten that was stolen along with eight other items during protests that brought down President Hosni Mubarak.
Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawass said this week thieves had broken into the Egyptian Museum on January 28 and taken eight treasures from the periods of Pharaohs Tutankhamun and Akhenaten but that three of them had been recovered.
A statement from Hawass' ministry said a protester had found the 7 centimeter (2.8 inch) long limestone statue lying on the ground outside the museum in central Cairo during the demonstrations.
Hawass, promoted to the level of minister of state in a cabinet reshuffle during Mubarak's final days in office, is under fire from the archaeological community over the thefts. He told Reuters on February 9 that no artifacts had been stolen.
Egypt's Pharaonic sites and antiquities are a key attraction for tourists. Tourism receipts are one of Egypt's most important revenue earners.
Akhenaten, who reigned about 1,350 BC, is famed for having tried to abandon the traditional Egyptian gods and introduce worship centered on the sun disk Aten. He also tried to establish a new capital at Amarnah, 250 km (156 miles) south of Cairo.
(Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Maria Golovnina)