‘Largest repatriation in history’: Netherlands returns over 300 ancient artifacts to Panama


Last Updated on 3 months by Mukesh

The Netherlands has returned 343 pre-Hispanic era ceramics to Panama in what is being considered to be the “largest repatriation of archaeological pieces in history”. The move came in response to a widespread campaign in Panama to bring back the artifacts which were taken away in the 1900s. 

“This is the largest repatriation of archaeological pieces in the history of Central America,” Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes in a government statement according to Reuters. 

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The Panama government has been quite vocal about its intention to protect the country’s heritage and to bring up artifacts which were taken to other countries due to illegal trafficking. The government has also said that more objects will be coming back to Panama from Italy this year. 

“It is a valuable pre-Hispanic ceramic material that represents for Panama the rescue of part of its identity, of history as a source of social cohesion and collective pride,” the Foreign Ministry said. 

Panama is a signatory to the 1970 Convention that deals with steps which should be “adopted to prohibit and prevent the import, export and transfer of illicit ownership of cultural property”. 

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The ceramics were in possession of the Leiden University in the Netherlands and the institution was looking to give them back to Panama. As per Reuters, Panama’s ambassador to the Netherlands – Elizabeth Ward Neiman – led the discussions which led to the completion of the transfer. 

The ceramics will now be displayed at the Reina Torres de Arauz archaeological museum in Panama City with the cultural ministry of the country having full custody of the artifacts. 

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