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Archaeological pieces from private Philadelphia family collection returned to Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico — The Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia has returned 22 archaeological pieces to Mexico. The pieces were returned last week to the Mexican Cultural Center (CCM) voluntarily from a private family collection.

In a joint statement this week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said the 22 pieces will be reintegrated into Mexican archaeological heritage.

In addition to both institutions, the return was possible thanks to the collaboration between the Landau family, collector of the pieces, the federal Ministry of Culture, through the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) of Mexico.

Last October, the Landau family decided to voluntarily deliver 29 pieces to the CMM, given the possible historical and cultural relevance of the elements in question, the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia and the CCM agreed to verify their authenticity before the INAH with the support of the SRE.

In that sense, an opinion was carried out on the 29 pieces and an archaeologist from the institute, a specialist in pre-Columbian cultures, concluded that 22 of them – among which anthropomorphic figures and vessels stand out – matched artifacts made by various Mesoamerican cultures that inhabited our country between the years 400 BC and 1521 AD, which is why they are considered the archaeological heritage of the nation.

Photo: SRE May 1, 2024.

It was resolved that the remaining seven pieces are of recent manufacture or that their place of origin cannot be determined based on their physical state.

Once the INAH opinion was received, the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia and the CMM coordinated the delivery of the 22 pieces with the aim of being returned to Mexican territory for proper research, conservation and care.

Five of the pieces date from the Mesoamerican Preclassic period (400 BC-200 AD), 16 belong to the Classic period (100-700 AD) and one is from the Postclassic period (1200-1521 AD).

The Consul of Mexico in Philadelphia, Carlos Obrador Garrido, praised the special attention that the federal government has given to the recovery and rematriation of Mexican historical heritage.

“We celebrate that it has been possible to return these 22 pieces to the country, which should never have left Mexico,” he said.

The president of the CCM Board of Directors, Araceli Guenther said “we are pleased to collaborate in this initiative that highlights the importance of restoring our archaeological heritage.
“For the Mexican Cultural Center it is a pride to have been the conduit through which the pieces that will soon return to our country were recovered.”

The Landau family, also present at the event, said “Leonard Landau was a lover of Mexican art and liked to collect archaeological pieces. After his death, his wife and his children considered that the right thing to do was to return them to Mexico and we were lucky enough to find the Mexican Cultural Center of Philadelphia.”

Mexico, through its embassies and consulates around the world, constantly deploys efforts to raise awareness about the importance of preserving Mexican cultural heritage.

Photo: SRE May 1, 2024.

For this reason, the diplomatic and consular representations of Mexico have recovered various archaeological assets, historical manuscripts, among others, that were in the hands of people or institutions abroad, which are now in Mexican territory.