Switzerland has returned to Peru a 2,500-year-old stone head confiscated as part of criminal proceedings.
This content was published on February 8, 2023 - 12:00 February 8, 2023 - 12:00 swissinfo.ch/jc
suiza restituye a perú una antigua cabeza de piedra
The sculpture, which weighs some 200kg, is a significant archaeological piece of cultural property, according to a Federal Office of Culture FOC press releaseexternal link . It was handed to the Peruvian embassy in Switzerland on Wednesday for return to its country of origin.
This restitution underlines the shared commitment of Switzerland and Peru to combating the illegal transfer of cultural property, said the FOC.
The stone head had previously been confiscated as part of criminal proceedings. It was not declared as cultural property when it was imported in 2016 and was discovered at Basel-Weil am Rhein customs office.
Customs authorities contacted the FOC, which reviewed the case and determined that the piece was from the pre-Hispanic Chavín culture (around 1200 to 550BC) and originates in what is now Peru.
As a significant piece of cultural property, it should have been declared as such when imported. This led to criminal proceedings by Basel public prosecutor's office and resulted in an order to definitively confiscate the piece.
Peru is heavily affected by the plundering and destruction of archaeological sites, says the FOC. That includes pre-Columbian pieces such as the returned sculpture, which are among Peru's most endangered categories of cultural property.
Switzerland and Peru are signatories of the 1970 unesco conventionexternal link on preventing and prohibiting illicit trade in cultural property.
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