Spain’s government returned 691 pre-Columbian artifacts covering 3,000 years of history to Colombia on Tuesday after Spain recovered them in a 2003 trafficking ring bust, Colombian media reported on Tuesday.
The majority of the pieces recovered in the collection were ceramics with human or animal forms, funeral jars, and vases with geometric drawings. There were also some artifacts such as necklaces made of crystals and other precious stones, according to Semana news magazine.
Madrid’s Museum of the Americas has been caring for and restoring the pre-Columbian collection that represents all the Colombian ancestral cultures in artifacts spanning from 1400 BC to 1700 BC.
|“Today is a very special day for Colombia”|
In 2003, a raid on a house in Madrid by 60 police officers resulted in the arrest of 29 Spanish and Colombian citizens and the recovery of 885 precious artifacts. The operation began in 2000 as a counter-narcotics operation.
Spanish police General Ignacio Cosido said, the value of the collection being returned to Colombia is “above $6.7 million due to the rarity of the collection,” according to Semana.
General Cosido added, “Going beyond its economic value this has to do with roots, an expression of one’s own history, of one’s own culture, and I would dare to say the soul of the Colombian nation.”
According to Semana, of the 885 total pieces recovered that day, the Department of Culture uncovered 42 that were fake. The remaining 152 pieces of the collection most likely belong to Ecuador, Panama, and Peru.
Colombia’s ambassador to Spain, Fernando Carrillo Florez stated, “Today is a very special day for Colombia. The arrival of nearly 700 artifacts to Colombia is one of the most important cultural events in recent history,” according to El Espectador newspaper.
Florez declared that the collection will receive a “place of honor” in a museum that has yet to be announced.
The collection was handed over to Colombia on Tuesday but won’t fly to Bogota until July or August until the tedious packing process is completed, according to El Espectador.