The Netherlands Returns 343 Pre-Hispanic Artifacts to Panama

The Netherlands has returned a trove of pre-Hispanic artifacts to Panama, aiding the country as it works toward its goal of reclaiming looted cultural heritage from international collections.

Some 343 ceramic objects were returned on August 29 in what Panama’s Foreign Minister, Erika Mouynes, has called the “largest repatriation of archaeological pieces in the history of Central America.” The Foreign Ministry also reported that another repatriation of heritage objects is set to be received from Italy. 

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According to the ministry, this past March, Panama’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Elizabeth Ward, discovered the ceramic artifacts in the collection of the Leiden University, which supported their return. They will join the collection of the Reina Torres de Arauz archaeological museum in Panama City.

The Minister of Culture, Giselle González Villarrué, said in a statement that “the recovery of this Panamanian cultural good shows with facts, the fulfillment of our responsibility and commitment to rescue our identity, of our history as a source of social cohesion and collective pride.”

He added that “the archaeological assets recovered, as well as those that rest in different museums in the country, serve as an economic engine for cultural tourism that we develop, hence the importance of preserving them, restoring them and providing them with the value that allows an exhibition of these with their historical context.”


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