Workers at a Sheffield charity shop were left gobsmacked when they discovered an Ancient Egyptian artefact among a box of bric-a-brac that was donated anonymously.
The curious item was donated to the St Luke's Hospice charity shop, several thousands of miles away from the Valley of the Kings.
"Crystal Peaks shop manager, Lana Beech, has a good eye for things, and thought it would be worth digging a little deeper into what it was and where it had come from," explained Area Retail Manager, Chris Quinlan, adding: "One of the volunteers at the shop is brilliant at research and presented Lana with a load of information on what it could be."
Ms Quinlan took the discovery to world-leading archaeologist, author and TV and radio broadcaster Dr Joann Fletcher who quickly confirmed that the broken piece of pottery was indeed an ancient Egyptian Shabti, dating back to the days of the pharaohs.
Ms Quinlan said: "We were hoping that it might be, but were still amazed when she came back and confirmed that it was indeed an artefact from Ancient Egypt and authenticated it for us."
Shabtis – which look like miniature Egyptian mummies - were placed in tombs among the grave goods of the dead and were intended to act as servants or minions for the deceased, should they be called upon to do manual labour in the afterlife.
The Shabti left at the Crystal Peaks shop has lost its bottom section somewhere along its long journey from an Egyptian tomb to a Sheffield shopping mall but remains a finely decorated example of Egyptian arts and crafts dating back several thousand years.
Despite being incomplete, the shabti is still believed to be worth around £150 to £200 to a collector interested in antiquities.
St Luke's Hospice is now hoping to sell the item through their eBay page.
"It's definitely the most unusual thing we've ever had donated and we're now going to put the discovery forward for an award," added Ms Quinlan.
Crystal Peaks shop manager, Lana Beech, continued: "This proves yet again that it’s always worth having a good look around your nearest St Luke’s shop because you really don’t know what you’re going to discover,” said
“It’s incredible that something that has survived for thousands of years should end up on our shelves.”