Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Colombians Request Return of Prehistoric Artwork

Monday, December 31, 2012

SAN AGUSTIN, COLOMBIAMore than 1,500 residents of the San Agustin region of southern Colombia have signed a petition asking Germany to return 35 stone statues excavated by archaeologist Konrad Preuss between 1913 and 1914. He then transported them out of the country after World War I. It is not clear if Colombian law at the time prohibited exports of cultural patrimony, however. Some of the 1,000-year-old human figures, which have feline or reptile characteristics, are on display at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. The rest are in storage. So far, the Colombian Culture Ministry has not made any commitment to asking Germany for the return of the statues.