Cooperation. Nearly 25,500 rare archaeological pieces relating mainly to prehistory and paleontology, seized by French Customs in 2005 and 2006, were returned to Morocco on Thursday.
A ceremony took place this Thursday at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM) in the Phocaean city during which this exceptional archaeological lot was handed over to the Consul General of Morocco in Marseille, Said Bakhkhar, by the deputy interregional director of customs and indirect rights of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region, in the presence of representatives of the ministries responsible for culture and foreign affairs of France and Morocco, and of French customs.
In total, there are 24,459 fossil and archaeological objects, trilobites, teeth, animal skulls and jaws, arrowheads and cut tools and rock engravings, from pre-Saharan and anti-Atlas sites, and dating from 500,000 million years and from the Paleolithic and Neolithic times (6,130,000 years / – 6,000 years), which will return to Morocco.
Among this inestimable treasure, there are rock engravings, some of which date from the Neolithic era, a crocodile skull still partly in its matrix, an exceptional piece especially since many fakes are on sale, as well as teeth of fish and reptiles dated mainly from the Eocene, second period of the Paleogene and second of the Cenozoic era (56-33 million years ago).
+ A common front against the illicit trafficking of cultural goods +
These archaeological objects had been intercepted during three consecutive seizures made by the Arles and Perpignan customs authorities between November 2005 and November 2006.
“I would like to congratulate the French customs services for their vigilance. I can only rejoice at the return of this collection to Morocco, its country of origin, where it will find its natural place in the middle of a rich and precious heritage which is proving to be an inexhaustible source of discoveries for the scientific community like us. reminded us of the recent discovery, in 2017, in Jbel Irhoud, of the oldest Homo Sapiens, ”said Chakib Benmoussa, Moroccan ambassador to France.
“This handover testifies to the common will of our two countries to form a united front against the illicit trafficking of cultural property within the framework of our respective international commitments in the matter”, he added.
“This ceremony embodies the common will of the two countries, Morocco and France, for the protection of cultural heritage”, underlined Said Bakhkhar, Consul General of Morocco in Marseille.
For his part, the National Director of Moroccan Heritage at the Ministry of Culture, Youssef Khiara, affirmed that “this heritage will find its native land and will be exposed to the Moroccan public”.
The recovery of these archaeological objects is part of the action plan of the Ministry of Culture aimed at the protection of heritage and the fight against illicit traffic in cultural property, in particular movable heritage.
It also intervenes in accordance with the international commitments of Morocco and France relating to the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention for the prohibition and prevention of the import, export and transfer of property of cultural property to which both countries are parties.
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