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Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities Investigations
09/14/2011

TOP STORY: ICE HSI repatriates pre-Columbian bowl to Belize

This z-angle pre-Columbian feasting bowl was created by Mayan Indians. It is nearly 1800 years old.
This z-angle pre-Columbian feasting bowl was created by Mayan Indians. It is nearly 1800 years old.
Belize's history is rich. Nearly 75 attendees gathered at the Embassy of Belize this past weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the country's independence from England. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) added to the celebration by returning a piece of history – a pre-Columbian feasting bowl, common to northern Belize – to the Belizean government.

The z-angle pre-Columbian feasting bowl was created by Mayan Indians. It is nearly 1800 years old, dating back to 200 to 600 AD and was likely looted from a grave.

"Artifacts like this represent the people of Belize and the region's ancient cultural history," said Carlos Maza, deputy assistant director for ICE's Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Office of International Affairs. "The bowl is precisely the type of treasure that ICE's Cultural Property Art and Antiquities Program was established to identify, investigate and return to its rightful owners."

ICE HSI special agents working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recovered the bowl after conducting a search warrant on a residence in Santa Fe, N.M. This is the second time, in recent years, that ICE has returned seized cultural property to the people of Belize. In July 2006, ICE returned a collection of 39 Mayan artifacts to the Government of Belize.

Since 2007, ICE has returned more than 2,500 artifacts to more than 22 countries and private individuals. Learn more about ICE cultural property, art and antiquities investigations.