France returns stolen ancient artifacts to Pakistan

Paris:  France returned more than 400 stolen artifacts to the government of Pakistan on Tuesday, including ancient busts, vases, urns and goblets, some dating to the second and third millennia B.C. as per various media reports.

Many of the pieces turned up in France in September 2006, sent in parcels addressed to a gallery in Paris. The packages were intercepted by customs officers at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and identified by the National Centre for Scientific Research as items looted from cemeteries in Pakistan’s Indus Valley. Another consignment of pottery and terracotta pieces destined for the same gallery was stopped two weeks later. And during a search of the unnamed gallery’s premises, customs officers seized several hundred more ceramic pieces.

In a ceremony held at Pakistan’s embassy in Paris, 445 artifacts were handed back to Pakistan on Tuesday, with an estimated value of 139,000 euros ($157,000).

French President Emmanuel Macron has made a point of seeking to return ancient artworks to regions where they originated.. Last November, he announced a plan to give dozens of objects held in French museums back to Benin, a former French Colony. A number of artifacts have been returned this year to Peru and from 2014-2017 more than 250 pieces of Egyptian antiquity were returned to Cairo after they were discovered in the baggage of a British resident traveling to London.

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