Saturday 15 June 2013

Peru: Post Office Inspections for Antiquities

Sonia Rojas, left, an art historian, and Gladiz Collatupa, an archaeologist,
open packages with a customs agent at a post office in Lima to check
for the smuggling of artefacts out of the country

Archaeologist Gladiz Collatupa digs through packages at the post office, searching for ancient artefacts being smuggled out of the country. She is part of a specialist team that is employed by Peru’s Ministry of Culture as part of a program aimed at stopping the illegal export of valuable historic and prehistoric objects and artwork.
Last year, the post office team [...] made 22 seizures, totaling dozens of items. They included pre-Columbian textiles and pottery, fossils, a 19th-century saber, a 19th-century oil painting of St. Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read, a shipment of 56 books and other texts belonging to the National Library, and a group of religious and legal documents from the 18th century. This year, they have made seven seizures of items that include old coins and replicas of pre-Columbian dolls that incorporate ancient cloth looted from archaeological sites.[...] Many of the items are bound for the United States, mailed by tourists who may be unaware they are breaking the law. But others are shipped by dealers and collectors who know exactly what they are doing.
William Neuman, 'Guardians of Peru’s Treasures Stake Out Post Office to Block Smuggling', The New York Times, June 13, 2013

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