Ecuador recovers 10,000 archaeological objects; government initiative seeks to repatriate thousands more

Oct 24, 2014

chl archeo

A 3,500-year-old figurine from the Chorrera Culture.

Ecuador is recovering pieces of its history.

Sebastián González, who heads a commission charged with recovering illegally obtained Ecuadorian archaeological objects, many of them in foreign museums, says that 10,000 pieces from several countries have been returned in the last two years.

Almost 5,000 objects, many of them small statues and cooking implements dating as far back as 6,000 years, were recently shipped by the Italian government and are expected to arrive in Guayaquil by mid-November.

Ecuador’s ambassador to Italy, Juan Holguín Flores, said, “So far this year, the Italian government has handed back to Ecuador thousands of pre-Columbian pieces recovered from the illegal trade.” Although most of the objects were in public collections in Italy, some were in private hands, obtained through illegal sales.

According to González, recovery of the archaeological treasures is the result of a new government initiative to repatriate archeological objects. He says that while museums are cooperating in the return, more work is needed to recuperate items in private hands.

“We want to raise awareness among Europeans and to send the message to everyone that it is not right to illegally trade our cultural heritage. These objects belong to our country and our people,” said González. He adds that tens of thousands more Ecuadorian objects remain to be collected.