Over 300 Panamanian artifacts returned from Netherlands – ministry

By Thomson Reuters Aug 29, 2022 | 11:05 PM

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – The Netherlands has returned a collection of 343 pre-Hispanic era ceramics to Panama in response to a drive in the Central American country to protect its cultural heritage, authorities in Panama City said on Monday.

“This is the largest repatriation of archaeological pieces in the history of Central America,” Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes in a government statement.

The Foreign Ministry said another repatriation of ancient artifacts would come from Italy. It gave no further details.

The shipments are part of a government push to protect Panamanian cultural heritage and fight illegal trafficking, it said, without explaining how the pieces had left Panama.

The ministry said that Panama’s ambassador to the Netherlands had discovered the ceramics were in Leiden University and that the university had expressed interest in returning them.

Panama’s culture ministry will take permanent custody of the artifacts, which are set to join a collection in the Reina Torres de Arauz archaeological museum in the country’s capital.

Panama is a member of a 1970 convention against the illegal trade of cultural property.

(Reporting by Eli Moreno; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Bradley Perrett)