German officials hand back 49 precolumbian objects

As stated in a press release of the ministery of science and arts of the German state of Hesse, the officials handed back 49 prehispanic objects to the Mexican ambassador in Germany, Francisco Nicolás González Díaz. The objects had been seized in 2004 during a control at the Frankfurt airport.

The items are from the classical era (300-800 AD); one mask and 48 earrings. They most probably got taken during an illicit excavation.

Several of the 48 earrings
picture: Ministery for science and arts of Hesse

State secretary Jung said: “In cultural heritage the identity of a country is reflected. Art treasures, no matter whether they are books, monuments, paintings, sculptures or other artifacts preserve the the memory of a nation. Therefore, we return these valuable archaeological artifacts to the country from which they originated and had been unlawfully stolen”. According to Mexican law all precolumbian archaeological artifacts are automatically in the possession of the state, in order to protect this cultural heritage. There is also an export ban an all those items, which can only be bypassed with the proper permissions.

The Mexican ambassador González Díaz thanked the officials, stating “This is a day of joy for Mexico.” Amongst the Mexican delegation receiving the invaluable artifacts was the general director of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Alfonso de Maria y Campos Castello. His institute coordinated the examination of the artifacts.

State Secretary Ingmar Jung (left)
and Ambassador González Díaz
picture: Ministery for science and arts of Hesse

A UNESCO-Agreement of 1970 covers the return of illegally exported cultural goods. On this base, Hesse had previously already returned objects to Italy, Russia and Iraq. This time it took them seven years, due to the artifacts being pieces of evidence in the criminal proceeding against the importing person.

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