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Germany returns found Mayan-style carving to Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico — A relief carved in rock has been restored to the people of Mexico from Germany. The voluntary restitution of the property was in the possession of an antique store. The Mayan-style carved rock relief represents a skull in profile and was part of a wall of carved skulls

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) delivered the carved rock to the Federal Ministry of Culture, through the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

The carving is considered a piece of great archaeological and historical relevance. It was recovered by the Foreign Ministry through of the Consulate of Mexico in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mexican legislation strictly regulates the protection and conservation of the assets that make up the nation’s heritage and forcefully prohibits the export of archaeological pieces.

As a result, its appearance abroad is presumed to be the product of looting or part of a chain of illegal acts, for which its recovery and eventual restitution to the country was sought.

Given its characteristics, it is a cultural object owned by the Mexican nation, made in the lowlands of northern Yucatan during the Late Classic and Postclassic Mesoamerican periods (750-1244 AD) and is very similar to the structures of the Archaeological Zone of Chichen Itza.

The Mayan-style carved rock relief, which represents a skull in profile, was part of a wall of carved skulls which evokes the Tzompantli, the name given to the palisades or wooden structures on which rows of human skulls of warriors or prisoners who were sacrificed in ceremonies, as part of religious rituals in Mesoamerica.

The restitution of this archaeological piece constitutes a sample of the work of the Government of Mexico, and the success of the legal strategy of the legal team of the Foreign Ministry, in the identification and restitution of the patrimony of the country that is abroad, as well as the fight against the trafficking of cultural property and international cooperation for the conservation of the historical past of nations.