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Mexico recovers archaeological pieces from Germany

June 17, 2021

Almost three dozen items were handed over by two German citizens, who approached the Mexican Embassy in Berlin to express their interest in returning the objects.

Rogelio Granguillhome und Rupert Gebhard
The topic of returning artifacts has become a sensitive issueImage: Lino Mirgeler/dpa/picture alliance

Mexico has recovered 34 pre-Columbian artifacts that were voluntarily returned by two German private collectors, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

"Two German citizens approached our embassy in Berlin to express their interest in returning archaeological pieces that were in the possession of their families," said the Mexican foreign minister's legal consultant, Alejandro Celorio.

The Mexican Culture Ministry tweeted details of the items recovered: "Among the cultural assets there are bowls, vessels, stamps and an Olmec-style anthropomorphic mask."

The mask, made of rock and from the period 1200-600 B.C., was just one of the objects dating back centuries. Others included anthropomorphic clay figures and a three-legged Mayan clay pot from the period 1000-1521 A.D.

Sensitive issue

Diego Prieto, director of Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, highlighted the "growing sensitivity" in the global community about the need to respect cultural heritage and return artifacts.

The recovered pieces were handed over to embassy officials in May of this year.

Twenty-eight of the objects were in the city of Monheim am Rhein in western Germany and the remaining six in Recklinghausen, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) away. 

jsi/sms (AFP, dpa, EFE)