Friday, 22 July 2016

FBI returns seven Mayan objects to Guatemala from Los Angeles collection

Dan Whitcomb, 'FBI repatriates recovered 1,000-year-old Mayan artifacts to Guatemala ' Fri Jul 22, 2016
[US] Federal authorities on Friday formally repatriated a collection of more than thousand-year-old Mayan artifacts to the Guatemalan government at a ceremony in Los Angeles after recovering them from the estate of a deceased art collector.
We need to be detecting them in collections while their buyer is still alive in order to find out more about where they came from and by what route. Merely "repatriating" them is no solution.In this case however it seems there is a rough idea of who was involved/ Three of the sculptures:
have been traced to the Late Classic Maya Era (A.D. 600-900). According to the FBI, experts say the fragments were uncovered near a ruined temple building in the Petexbatun Region of Guatemala and that an inscription found on them is part of a text that served as a primitive calendar. The other four pieces were thought to have originated in the El Peru area of Guatemala and believed to date to the Early Classic Period (A.D. 400-600). [...] the items were believed to have been purchased by the now-deceased art collector in the 1970s from a man who was convicted during that decade of dealing in other artifacts that were illegally brought to the United States. No charges were ever filed in connection with the seven pieces repatriated on Friday. The U.S. government has an agreement with Guatemala restricting the import of archaeological artifacts.
The phrase "no charges were ever filed..." seems to indicate that the authorities knew of the objects' presence in the US before they surfaced on the collector's death - and therefore presumably that the collector knew that objects in their collection were of illicit origin, but kept them anyway for as long as they could. If that is so, their shame follows them to the grave, they are hiding their shadowy deeds behind anonymity. If collectors are doing nothing to be ashamed of, why are they and their families so intent on keeping their names out of the public domain?

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