Home Headlines Mexican Embassy in Germany returns 40 pre-Hispanic artifacts to Mexico

Mexican Embassy in Germany returns 40 pre-Hispanic artifacts to Mexico

by Sofia Navarro
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An Olmec style head showing the face of a personage with a grim expression, with pierced earlobes and sgraffito designs on the forehead and cheeks, made by the cultures of the Gulf Coast of Mexico during the Mesoamerican Preclassic period, dating from 1200 to 600 B.C.

This is one of the 40 pieces of pre-Hispanic origin, “with an incalculable historical and cultural value“, that have been returned to the country thanks to the efforts of the Mexican Embassy in Germany and that will be presented today in the morning conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

“They are the first restituted pieces to arrive at Felipe Angeles International Airport. They range in age from the Pre-Classic to the Post-Classic period and come from the Mayan, Gulf Coast, Central High Plateau, Mixtec and Teotihuacan cultures, among others,” says David Esquivel Palomares.

In an exclusive interview with Excélsior, the attaché for Historical-Cultural Heritage in Mexico of the Mexican Embassy in Germany explains that the pieces arrived in Aztec lands on March 17 and were delivered to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) on March 22, for their registration and possible creation of an exhibition circuit.

Germany is relevant in the matter, because it is the European country that presumably has more objects with archaeological and ethnological value about Mexico. There is no exact figure on the matter, because not even they know how much the number of objects in their custody amounts to.

“Currently, there is a situation in Germany that has to do with rethinking colonialist narratives inside museums and we want to take advantage of it because it is close to Mexico’s efforts to protect heritage abroad,” he says.

The communicologist explains that the recovery of the archaeological objects was “thanks to the efforts to raise awareness of what these pieces are outside their original context; then, several private individuals decided to voluntarily return them. There were other efforts that have to do with seizures or with the tracking of illegal sales“.

Thus, INAH already has in its custody, among other works, a throat axe made of metamorphic rock using the techniques of percussion carving and polishing by abrasion, from the Central Highlands; as well as a female character in a seated position, with a naked torso and a skirt, manufactured by the cultures of Nayarit (300 BC – 600 AD).

In addition, another personage in sedentary position that supports its legs with the arms, has the smooth face and presents a prominent nose, of the region of the west of Mexico, that dates between the 300 B.C. to the 600 of our era. And a cajete made of modeled clay, with a smooth surface and painted in black and white over orange, from the Central High Plateau (1000-1300 A.D.).

Esquivel emphasizes that the restitution of the 40 pieces is the first result of a more ambitious program launched by Ambassador Francisco Quiroga. “It has to do, in the first place, with the identification of the Mexican heritage existing in Germany, not only of archaeological and ethnological pieces, but at a wide documentary level, archival, library, photo library; all the documentary typologies that can have a value for our country, whether they are viable to restitute or not“.

The graduate in Cultural Policies and Cultural Management from the UAM indicates that they also carry out “negotiations with the memory management institutions and generate cooperation projects in terms of research, digitization and data exchange, so that the heritage that Germany holds can be accessible to the whole world from Mexican digital platforms, such as Memórica“.

He gives as examples the collection of Mexican architect Luis Barragán, which is housed in a museum dedicated to design and fashion in Germany; and the unpublished collection of Guillermo Kahlo, of photographs taken by him in Mexican foundries and wax factories, located at the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin.

Pre-Hispanic art

The restituted pieces come from the Mayan, Gulf Coast, Central High Plateau, Mixtec and Teotihuacan cultures.

TYT Newsroom

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