Photo: Ministerio de Cultura
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday publicly presented a total of 691 pre-Columbian artifacts repatriated from Spain in recent weeks.
The items - from different epochs, cultures and regions - include objects with organic and geometric designs, the Colombian Anthropology and History Institute, or ICANH, said in a recent communique.
In the collection can be found representations of human faces, small flutes known as “ocarinas” and a large number of stamps and molds with symbolic images used by the indigenous peoples to paint their bodies and stamp cloth, ICANH added.
The process of repatriating this group of items began a year ago with the intervention of the foreign ministry, the culture ministry, the Colombian Embassy in Spain, ICANH and the Colombian Attorney General’s Office.
Colombian authorities asked for the return of the pieces, which had been seized by Spanish police in 2003 after they were discovered during the course of Operation Florencia against drug and money laundering cartels.
For a decade, the collection was in the custody of the Museum of the Americas, a Spanish government entity that preserved the pieces under optimal conditions during that entire time, according to ICANH, until it notified the Colombian government of the collection’s existence in 2011.
Now, the pieces will be studied to precisely determine their origins with an eye toward mounting a big exposition next month, ICANH personnel told Efe.