274 priceless artifacts repatriated to Colombia from the US
The two countries have agreed to cooperate on the repatriation of priceless Indigenous artworks.
Colombia has recently repatriated 274 looted artifacts from the US and placed them at the offices of the foreign affairs ministry in Bogota, AFP reports.
Alhena Caicedo, director of Colombia's ICANH anthropology and history institute, said the embassy of Colombia in Washington has been working hard to retrieve the artifacts across the US since 2018 thanks to "seizures" and voluntary "returns by collectors."
These artifacts "left this country illegally, we don't know exactly when," said Caicedo.
They come from various regions of Colombia where peoples such as the Tumaco, Narino, Quimbaya, Tayrona, and Sinu lived before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in 1492.
The objects, which include potteries, stones, and seashells, were made by Indigenous peoples between 500 BC and 500 AD. They were returned last week by Colombian President Gustavo Petro on his way back from the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History was responsible for the handling of the artifacts and their display.
#ConoceICANH De acuerdo con un estudio preliminar realizado por investigadoras del ICANH, estas piezas pertenecen a las regiones arqueológicas Tumaco-La Tolita, Quimbaya, Tayrona, Calima, Sinú y Nariño.— ICANH (@El_Icanh) September 26, 2022
Más información en 👉 https://t.co/lpIi69iOho pic.twitter.com/QClbbxDV2n
The majority of the objects were handed over voluntarily by an American woman who inherited them from her deceased husband. According to her, he obtained the artifacts in the southwestern Colombian city of Cali in the 1970s.
Some that were sold on the black market were already confiscated by the FBI.
Some 730 artifacts still remain to be repatriated from other countries across the world.
In 2021, former Colombian Vice President Marta Lucia Ramirez was able to cancel the auction of 25 pieces of pre-Columbian artworks by the German auction house, Gerhard Hirsh.
Other countries of Southern America have made similar efforts to repatriate indigenous artworks.
UNESCO estimates that the sale of pillaged cultural artifacts is close to $10 billion.
Read more: Oxford Uni: 97 artifacts looted in 1897 to be returned to Nigeria