Recently, we shared the good news about Germany’s decision to return its collection of the Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria, where they belong. Soon after, the Met Museum followed suit and returned two brass plaques belonging to the same collection of West African art that was looted during colonization.
On a similar note, the Brooklyn Museum in New York City has recently returned a collection of a whopping 1,305 pieces back to their rightful home in Costa Rica. Among the artifacts is an unfinished tombstone, a large ceramic vase painted with beeswax, human representations, and ancient tools to process corn.
The collection, which contains pieces older than 2,000 years, was looted by tycoon Minor Keith, who brought the artifacts to the United States in the 19th century or early 20th century, along with banana shipments.
Archaeologists in the central American country have warmly welcomed the artifacts, which arrived at the end of last year. “The tombstone is a piece we have only seen as illustrations in study books here,” said Daniela Meneses, a researcher at the National Museum of Costa Rica. “It’s amazing to see that piece now. It’s very emotional.”
The tombstone is thought to have belonged to a tomb designated for an important person from a now-extinct civilization. The ceramic vase — about half a meter high — is one of the largest pieces in the shipment, and is adorned with human figures and evocative geometric lines.
There are still more artifacts from Costa Rica in Brooklyn and in other museums in the United States, but archaeologist Javier Fallas of the state museum underlined 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.”
Image source: Reuters