Photo: Gold Moche Monkey Heads Back to Peru
A gold Moche monkey head was returned to the government of Peru today in a repatriation ceremony at the Peruvian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The Moche culture flourished in Peru from the first through eighth centuries AD. Moche nobility were buried in tombs with important symbols of power, often made of gold. Due to the dry climate, the bodies and artifacts have been preserved through the years. In 1987, the royal tombs were discovered in northern Peru, including the Sipan region.
Shortly thereafter, tomb raiders descended on the sites, looking for gold. They found it, including the gold monkey head (circa 300 AD). The monkey head ended up in a private collection in the United States. The collector subsequently donated the monkey head to the Museum of New Mexico, Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, N.M.
The Museum of New Mexico entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government of Peru to return the monkey head to its rightful place in Peru.
U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III noted “I commend all parties for their efforts in producing this positive outcome. In particular, I commend the Museum of New Mexico for its selfless and noble action in returning this invaluable artifact to Peru. Artifacts like this Moche monkey head represent the history not only of the source country, in this case Peru, but the history of all mankind. We hope that this repatriation will help repair at least some of the damage caused by the looting of Moche sites.”