Antiquities and Archaeology
Spain returns ‘small museum’ of artefacts to Colombia
Nearly 700 works confiscated by Spanish police in a 2003 drug trafficking and money laundering investigation were handed over this week
By Laurie Rojas. Web only
Published online: 26 June 2014
Spain returned 691 artefacts, spanning nearly 3,000 years of history, to Colombia on Tuesday. The pieces were recovered by Spanish police during a drug trafficking and money laundering investigation in 2003. Since then, the works have been kept for conservation in Madrid’s Museum of the Americas, where 885 recovered pieces were studied.
At an official handover ceremony in Madrid, the culture ministry’s director-general of fine arts, archives and libraries, Jesús Prieto, referred to the treasure as “a small Colombian museum of archaeology”. “Today is a very special day for Colombia,” said Fernando Carrillo, the Colombian ambassador in Spain, after accepting the works. “The arrival of nearly 700 artefacts is one of the most important cultural events of recent history.” The hoard includes ceramics with animal and human figures, vases with geometric designs, necklaces with precious stones, idols, and stamps, from as early as 1,400 BC to as late as the 16th century.
Most of the objects were identified as belonging to ancient Colombian cultures like the Sinú, Inland, Calima, Tumaco, Nariño, but others are believed to be from Peru, Panama and Ecuador. The Colombian collection alone is valued at around €5m due to its rarity, said the General of the Spanish Police, Ingnacio Cosidó, who led the handover ceremony.
However, the site of origin for many of the pieces is still unknown, according to the Colombian ambassador, so the country’s Ministry of Culture is to decide where the works will end up once they arrive in Bogotá this summer.
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