German Authorities return 75 Archaeological Pieces to Mexico

Thursday, November 30, 2023
German Authorities return 75 Archaeological Pieces to Mexico

In another example of the multilateral collaboration between Mexico and Germany, 75 archaeological pieces, mostly Huasteca, were delivered to the Mexican embassy in Germany on November 23.

The reception ceremony was led by Mexican Ambassador Francisco Quiroga Fernandez and Stefan Rössel, Commissioner for Foreign Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. German society was commended for joining the efforts to prevent the trafficking, exhibition and illegal trade of cultural property.

"Owning these archaeological pieces as souvenirs or decorative items is an offense to the native peoples. Therefore, their restitution not only ensures their preservation and study, but also returns to our indigenous communities a key part of their historical memory," said Ambassador Quiroga Fernandez.

Participating virtually, Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, Alejandra Frausto, said that these artifacts bring to 13,422 the number of archaeological pieces returned to Mexico during President López Obrador’s administration. “This is the result of the outstanding efforts of curators, archaeologists, diplomats, customs personnel and, in general, people who believe in bilateral relations based on understanding, respect and justice."

She said that, at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development (Mondiacult) held in Mexico in 2022, the participating States, including Mexico and Germany, committed to promoting respect for the places of origin of cultural heritage.

The Director General of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Diego Prieto Hernández, and the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Carmen Moreno Toscano, accompanied Secretary Frausto, who said that 74 of the pieces come from the Museum Schloss Salder in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony.

Anthropologist Diego Prieto said that the 74 objects were found 120 years ago by a German digging a well in Tampico, Tamaulipas in 1900, and that they came to the museum in 1963, approximately.

Although the arrival in Germany of these artifacts—which are between 500 and 2,000 years old—is not fully documented, the city of Salzgitter and the Museum Schloss Salder took the initiative to voluntarily return them to Mexico.

An additional piece is a stone tripod mortar, approximately 4,000 years old, that was confiscated by Leipzig customs when the addressee of the posted package was unable to provide authorities with the valid export certificate needed to prove legal ownership.

Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Carmen Moreno Toscano said: "Mexico and Germany are strategic partners that share interests and, as responsible global players, have broad areas of agreement on multilateral issues and in the main international forums and organizations."

The ceremony was attended by the head of Mexico's Historical Memory Office, Gabriela Pulido Llano; Federal Deputy Dunja Kreiser, president of the Germany-Mexico Parliamentary Group in Germany; Executive Director of Cultural and Tourism Diplomacy Juan Patricio Riveroll; the Director for the Restitution of Cultural Heritage at the Foreign Ministry, María José Buerba, and ambassadors from countries in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. During the ceremony, a call was made to promote the #MiPatrimonioNoSeVende (My Heritage Is Not for Sale) campaign, as an international example of the current change in thinking and respect for indigenous cultures.

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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