The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with Colombian Embassies in Switzerland and Italy, has successfully repatriated two pre-Columbian funerary urns from the archaeological sites of Chimila and Magdalena.
These artifacts, seized by the Ministry and flown back to the country aboard the presidential plane, mark another stride in the ongoing effort to reclaim stolen cultural treasures.
Unveiling the repatriation effort
The repatriation effort orchestrated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Colombian Embassies in Switzerland and Italy highlights a diplomatic endeavor to recover cultural artifacts illicitly taken from Colombian soil. The pieces, including the recently returned urns, were pilfered for decorative purposes, but their authentic origins lie in the funeral ceremonies and beliefs surrounding death in pre-Columbian societies.
The urn from Italy, part of a larger group of 29 pre-Columbian pieces, had been confiscated in 2014. A collaborative effort involving the Colombian Embassy in Rome, led by Ambassador Ligia Quessep, and the Italian Carabinieri resulted in the successful recovery of these artifacts. The pieces, snatched from Colombia’s cultural tapestry, were unlawfully utilized as ornaments, diminishing their profound historical and ceremonial significance.
Simultaneously, the Chimila funerary urn from Switzerland made its way back to Colombia through voluntary restitution. Professor Stefano Spaccapietra, retired from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, returned the urn, which he had acquired in 1987 at an auction in France. The urn’s authentic connection to pre-Columbian societies was reaffirmed by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH).
Cultural repatriation under Petro’s administration
The return of these two urns brings the total repatriation count to 563 artifacts during the Petro administration, signifying a noteworthy stride in reclaiming Colombia’s archaeological legacy.
The collaboration between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ICANH has been instrumental in retrieving artifacts from various countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Mexico. This cultural resurgence reinforces Colombia’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its rich ancient heritage, one artifact at a time.