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Pre-Columbian artifacts collected in Philly returned to Mexico

Mexico is about to receive 22 archaeological pieces returned to the country by a family in the United States who collected them.

The pre-Columbian artifacts and figurines are coming home through the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia and the Mexican Cultural Center (MCC) in that city, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE).

Carlos Obrador Garrido Cuesta, Sydelle Landau and Araceli Guenther during a rematriation ceremony for 22 pre-Columbian artifacts in PhiladelphiaCarlos Obrador Garrido Cuesta, Sydelle Landau and Araceli Guenther during a rematriation ceremony for 22 pre-Columbian artifacts in Philadelphia
Carlos Obrador Garrido Cuesta, Consul General of Mexico in Philadelphia, alongside Sydelle Landau and Araceli Guenther, President of the MCC Board of Directors. (@SRE_mx/X)

The return – part of the Mexican government’s international campaign to bring back Mexican artifacts from abroad – has been a collaboration between the family of the late collector Leonard Landau and the Mexican Ministry of Culture. A reception was held in Philadelphia on Wednesday to celebrate the return.

“Last October, the Landau family decided to voluntarily deliver 29 pieces to the MCC, given the potential historical and cultural relevance” of those pieces, the SRE statement said.

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) led an investigation into the artifacts. Twenty-two were verified as being “created by various Mesoamerican cultures that inhabited our country between the years 400 BC and 1521 AD, making them archaeological heritage of the nation.”

Five of the pieces date from the Mesoamerican Preclassic period (400 BCE – 200 CE), 16 from the Classic period (200 – 700 CE) and one from the Postclassical period (1200 – 1521 AD).

The artifacts are on their way back to Mexico for proper research, conservation and care.

“We celebrate that it has been possible to return these 22 pieces to our country, which should never have left Mexico,” said Carlos Obrador Garrido Cuesta, Consul General of Mexico in Philadelphia.

He also praised the special attention that the federal government has given recovery and rematriation of its historical heritage that ended up abroad for various reasons. The concept of repatriation, unlike repatriation, refers to the return of these artifacts to Mexico: discussing the return of 30 pre-Columbian artifacts in February this yearForeign Minister Alicia Bárcena noted that the recovery was “a rematriation because they will return to their motherland, to their mother communities.

“We are pleased to collaborate on this initiative that highlights the importance of restoring our archaeological heritage,” said Araceli Guenther, Chairman of the MCC Board of Directors. “It is an honor for the Mexican Cultural Center to have been the channel through which these pieces were recovered.”

Speaking of the late Leonard Landau, Guenther noted that the collector “was a lover of Mexican art (who) enjoyed collecting archaeological pieces. After his death, his wife and children believed it was the right decision to send them back to Mexico.”

With reports from Milenio And La Jornada