Brooklyn Museum returns 1,305 artefacts to Costa Rica

In an extraordinary gesture, the Brooklyn Museum has returned 1,305 artefacts to Costa Rica archaeologists

A return

A collection of 1,305 pieces that have been returned to Costa Rica by Brooklyn Museum in New York City.


Second time

This is the second time the Brooklyn Museum in New York City has returned pieces, some older than 2,000 years, to the central American country.


Contents of the return package

The collection includes an unfinished tombstone, a large ceramic vase painted with beeswax, human representations and ancient tools to process corn amongst other things.


Loot from 19th century

The artefacts were looted during the construction of a railway and brought to the US in the 19th or early 20th century, along with shipments of bananas by tycoon Minor Keith.


'Part of tomb'

Among the returned pieces is a tombstone that is believed to have been part of a tomb of an important person from a now-extinct. 

"The tombstone is a piece we have only seen as illustrations in study books here," Daniela Meneses, a researcher at the National Museum of Costa Rica, said at a viewing for the media. "It's amazing to see that piece now. It's very emotional."


Extraordinary gesture

Seven years ago, four sites in the southern part of the country were recognised as World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Archaeologist Javier Fallas of the state museum highlighted the return as an extraordinary gesture: "We don't know why they did it, but it's something very good and atypical in the world."


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