Photo: Recovered Antiquities Now on Display in Mexico Museum
Thousands of Mexican antiquities are scattered around the world, with illegally obtained archaeological items rarely being returned to Mexico.
There are exceptions, such as occurred in August, when a U.S. museum returned three stolen pieces to Mexico.
The pieces are included in an exhibition that opened last week at the National Museum of Anthropology.
The three pieces are “Cabeza de serpiente” (Serpent’s Head), a basalt sculpture from the Early Post-Classic Period (900-1200); “Tlaloc, Dios de la lluvia” (Tlaloc, God of Rain), completed between 200 and 900; and a stele made from basalt rock on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The sculptures were “torn from their context,” which was “the first damage done from a heritage standpoint by the looting,” National Museum of Anthropology director Antonio Saborit told Efe.
“The context is essential” because archaeologists “not only work on the discovery of a piece, but they are also studying the site where they found it, how it was found, in what direction, to see what it did exactly,” Saborit said.
The pieces were recovered by chance after being stolen and smuggled out of Mexico.
The sculptures ended up in a private collection in the United States that was donated to the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum when the owner died.
“When the museum started looking at putting together a pre-Columbian exhibition, it contacted the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, and the specialists noted the nature of the pieces at that time,” Saborit said.