Mexico on Friday recovered three ancient artifacts that were stolen and bound for auction in Italy as the Latin American country holds a global campaign to recover its art and relics.
The items, which are more than 2,300 years old, are a clay pot adorned with human figures and two ceramic human faces. Italy’s Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage confiscated the pieces during an inspection of artifacts for auction, officials said. The items had been illegally exported from Mexico, Italian investigations found, according to Mexico’s foreign ministry.
“The people who buy these pieces, who traffic these pieces, are criminals. You share responsibility if you buy something stolen,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said at an event in Rome where officials returned the artifacts. Italy has so far returned 650 ancient and religious items to Mexico since 2013, the Mexican foreign ministry said.
“It’s justice, it’s universal culture. We have to return to a country the things that belong to it,” Italian General Roberto Riccardi, who led the team that returned the artifacts, said on Twitter. In September, Mexico’s foreign ministry recovered stolen documents linked to conquistador Hernan Cortes due for auction with the aid of U.S. investigators.