Peru prevents illegal export of antiquities and fossils

Peru customs authorities have seized more than 150 artifacts and fossils so far this year, pieces that were being taken illegally out of the country, according to the Culture Ministry.

Peru prevents illegal export of antiquities and fossils
Machu Picchu artefacts returned to Peru by Yale University [Credit: Living in Peru]
Most of the 155 items were seized from travelers at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport, the ministry said. Authorities have confiscated 115 fossils, including shark teeth, as well as five fragments of ceramics, and other archaeological and cultural goods. The items were being taken to various cities around the world, the ministry said.

Authorities have also set up systems to prevent the trafficking of goods through the post and across Peru’s southern border to Chile, among other areas, the ministry said in an emailed statement.

The looting and trafficking of national patrimony is a big challenge in Peru, which has a rich indigenous and colonial history.

Peru prevents illegal export of antiquities and fossils
Peru's archaeologist Juan Leon shows a shark fossil teeth in the National Museum in Lima. Officials say illegal traffickers planned to ship the teeth, believed to be about 12 million years old, to the US. [Credit: AP]
Earlier this year, Peru sought to stop the auction of 67 pre-Columbian art pieces in Paris by  the Sotheby’s auction house. The government said the art, which included Chimu and Inca pieces that were part of the Barbier-Mueller collection, had more than likely been removed from Peru illicitly.

The government had also had a long standing claim with Yale University, for the univeristy to return archaeological pieces from Machu Picchu. In total, 46,635 fragments and artifacts —only some of which are exhibition-quality pieces— were taken from Peru to Yale for research purposes by Hiram Bingham, an American historian sponsored by Yale and the National Geographic Society, during expeditions between 1912 and 1916.

The first shipment of the pieces from Yale were returned to Peru last year, where they are now on display at a museum in Cusco.

Source: Peruvian Times [April 16, 2013]

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