Two collectors in San Diego voluntarily surrendered 65 pre-Hispanic artifacts to the Mexican government earlier this month.
Norm Werthman and Pete Mechalas returned the items in a handover ceremony at the Mexican consulate in San Diego on May 16. The restituted objects date back to the Preclassic, Classic and Mesoamerican Postclassic periods, and originate from locations across the Central Mexican Plateau and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The group includes a clay pedestal from the Mesoamerican Classic period (100-900 CE) and clay bowl or cajete decorated with delicate red dots and line motifs n the artistic tradition native to the Shaft Tombs, large underground burial chambers native to common to pre-Hispanic Western Mexican communities.
“I thank these citizens of San Diego for the generous and selfless gesture of returning these pieces to the people of Mexico,” González Gutiérrez, the consul general, said in a statement. “This is part of the permanent effort of the Mexican government to reintegrate pieces of historical and archaeological value that are part of the nation’s heritage.”
The artifacts will be returned to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), where they will be inspected, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mexican President Andres Manual Lopez has made the restitution of objects made by the ancient cultures that once inhabited the lands of present-day Mexico a focus of his administration. The movement, called “My Heritage is Not for Sale”, is continuously making requests for restitution, and has campaigned to halt the sale of such artifacts at auction houses worldwide.
More than 5,000 archaeological objects from Mexico have been recovered in the last several years, the Mexican government has estimated.
“The action of these people, from the San Diego community, sets an example that we hope will encourage the restitution of objects and assets of historical value that legitimately belong to Mexico,” added González Gutiérrez.