Mexico sighed with relief as an ancient artifact was returned to the country decades after being illegally taken. Those more superstitious of individuals echoed the sigh though with a different kind of relief – the object is after all the ancient Olmec ‘Gateway to the underworld’.
The artifact has returned after a decades-long absence from Mexico wherefrom it was illegally taken in the late 1950s. On Friday, the ancient Olmec ‘Gateway to the Underworld’ was returned from Denver on a Mexican Air Force plane.
The piece, officially known as Monument 9 of Chalcatzingo, is considered Mexico’s most sought-after piece from the ancient Olmec civilization, a government report states.
The monument depicting the Chalcatizngo hill in central Mexico is 1.8 meters high and 1.5 meters wide, carved in volcanic stone. Experts say it belongs to the Mid-Pre-Classic period (800 – 400 BC).
Authorities said that after the piece was removed from Mexico, it was located in the United States in the 1960s and exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in New York between 1970 and 1971.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said this monument has great meaning for the Mexican identity.
“Not having this piece was like a wound, like something essential that was missing. At the site, we had the piece’s location, but we didn’t have it, we only had a drawing. This gives us back something that explains where we came from. It is part of the heritage of the people of Mexico,” Ebrard said.
Olmecs are one of the oldest civilizations in Mesoamerica. They developed between 1200 and 400 BC, according to estimates. It was considered a highly complex culture due to its worldview and political organization.
TVP World was unable to verify if anyone had volunteered to open the ‘Gate to the Underworld’ yet.