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17 Pre-Columbian Artifacts Returned to Mexico


FILE - Pre-columbian artifacts sit in a cave at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — Two Dutch citizens have returned 17 Mexican archaeological artifacts after three decades in their possession, the foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday.

The return of the artifacts comes as Mexico works to recover thousands of archeological pieces that had been illegally removed from the country — 6,000 have come back so far, according to official figures.

Hubert De Boer and Liesebeth Mellis, who had been in possession of the items for 30 years, handed over the clay pieces during a ceremony at the Mexican embassy in the Netherlands.

It’s not clear how the two came into possession of the objects, which include a few small human figurines and which were made between the years 400 and 1521.

They were previously certified as authentic by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and came from multiple regions throughout the country, including along the Gulf coast, the central plains and the southeast.

“The pieces were made using the modeling, smoothing, incision and pastillage application technique,” the foreign ministry said, referring to craft styles.

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City, Jan. 17, 2022.
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City, Jan. 17, 2022.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has called out France for continuing to allow the unregulated sale of cultural heritage items from other countries after a recent sale of archaeological pieces from pre-Columbian Mexico.

Lopez Obrador also denounced Austria’s possession of a crown of feathers believed to have belonged to 16th-century Aztec emperor Moctezuma which several Mexican governments have sought to have returned.

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