Egypt helps Peru recover ancient artifacts

By Rachel Chase

Artifacts from Peru and Ecuador were removed illegally, authorities say.

Egypt helps Peru recover ancient artifacts

A Chancay figurine. (Photo: El Comercio/AP file photo)

Customs agents in Egypt are lending a hand after discovering contraband archaeological artifacts in packages sent from the United States.

According to El Comercio, customs officials found a number of Peruvian and Ecuadorian artifacts in packages intended to arrive in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. The artifacts, including clay figurines created by the Peruvian Chancay culture (ca. 1000-1475 AD) and terracotta heads made by the Ecuadorian Valdivia culture (ca. 2000 BC), were turned over to antiquities authorities.

Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim worked with the Ecuadorian and Peruvian ambassadors in Egypt to return the artifacts to their home countries. Peruvian Ambassador Alberto Gálvez de Rivero thanked the Egyptian authorities for their help, praising the “collaboration between two partner nations working together to return illegally removed pieces to their legitimate owners.”

Egypt is certainly experienced with cases of artifact smuggling. However, El Comercio reports that Egyptian customs officials were somewhat surprised to discover that archaeological artifacts were being smuggled into the the country— usually, black market antiquities traders are trying to smuggle valuable objects out of Egypt. Officials do not yet know how the artifacts were able to leave their countries of origin and be transported to the United States.

El Comercio writes that the artifacts were probably intended for a private collection.

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