The World of Tomb Raiders and Antiques Smugglers


by NTDTelevision

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Around the 1930’s large quantities of 2,000-year-old Paracas textiles were smuggled out of Peru and illegally exported to museums and private collections all over the world. Hundred of them ended up in a Gothenburg museum and the museum itself now brings up this issue with the exhibition called “A Stolen World".

[Anna Javér-Kristiansen, Conservator]:

“This exhibition is about how objects, cultural objects from around the world are being excavated, sometimes illegally excavated. Then they come out on the open market and end up being in auction houses, with private collectors, or museums. To visualize this, we've chosen one collection from the museum.”

The Paracas textiles were found in large underground burial chambers where mummies were wrapped in many layers of intricate and finely woven textiles.

[Anna Javér-Kristiansen, Conservator]:

“I think what’s so fascinating about the Paracas textile is the fantastic skills of the people that made them.”

The Peruvian government has now asked for the objects to be returned to Peru. But the delicate nature of Paracas textiles makes them extremely sensitive to the environment such as light and vibrations. And to move them could mean damage beyond repair.

[Anna Javér-Kristiansen]:

“It really needs a long process of thinking of the best solution for it. Anyway if they are here or in Peru, I think it is really important that they are available for the public and also for studying them so that new knowledge and that the collections around the world are connected. It is really those things that are important and maybe not where the actual objects are."

Today, more is known about the problems associated with looted and smuggled artifacts. Which line the museums around the world should take concerning dubious items in their collections is an ongoing discussion.

NTD News, Gothenburg, Sweden

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