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News > Culture

Germany Returns Stolen Peruvian Pre-Incan Mask 21 Years Later

  • Peru recovers pre-Incan Sican Mask, after it was stolen over 20 years ago.

    Peru recovers pre-Incan Sican Mask, after it was stolen over 20 years ago. | Photo: Twitter: @MinCulturaPe

Published 7 September 2018

After a 19 year trial, Peru has finally recovered the Sican Mask, an archeological object dated from pre-Incan times.

The Peruvian culture minister, Patricia Balbuena Thursday received a mask made by the pre-Incan civilization of Sican from a representative of the Free State of Bavaria, Germany Rolf-Dieter Jungk. The piece has been turned over, after 19 years of litigation, to the Peruvian government.

Peru: 500 Ancient Indigenous Artifacts Finally Make it Home

"It was stored in a basement as part of the judicial process, as a confiscated object, and went through a complex process to determine its age," said Balbuena.

The gold mask with silver eyes, was made by the Sican people, also known as the Lambayeque, from the Lambayeque region in northern Peru. The Incan artifact was found in the archeological zone of Batan Grande in 1991. It was a ceremonial object used by governors of the Sican culture.

The mask was smuggled out of Peru in 1997, by a Turkish citizen named Aydin Dikmen according to investigations by the Fiscal Police of Peru. The piece, part of Peruvian cultural heritage, was confiscated in 1999 by the Interpol Office in Wiesbaden, Germany.  

In Peru, many archeological pieces were stolen in the Huaqueos, the name given to the pillage of the Huacas, which in Quechua means 'sacred place or a temple.' Nowadays, the term Huaca is also used for an archeological site.

"#GoodNews Today we recovered the #SicanMask, reported as missing in 1999. The #German government will give the minister a special ceremony @pbalbuenap. #CultureLives"

"I am happy to receive one of the most emblematic goods of the northern cultures of Peru," Balbuena said, also stressing that it has been a "long road, which ends today with the delivery of the Sican Mask."

In March 2018, nearly 500 ancient looted artifacts, missing for centuries, were returned to Peru's Cultural Ministry after they were recovered from locations in Argentina, Mexico, the United States and the United Kingdom.


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