Friday August 18, 2006
From the Guardian Unlimited online
A priceless ancient Peruvian headdress, looted nearly 20 years ago, has been recovered by detectives from the Metropolitan police's art and antiques squad.
Officers refused to reveal how they located the headdress, which depicts the image of a sea god. They would only say a London solicitor's firm had facilitated the return on behalf of their client after an intelligence-led investigation. The headdress is made from an embossed sheet of gold and considered to be an example of Peruvian Mochica civilisation art dating back to AD700.
Walter Alva [left], the director of the Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum in Peru, said of the artefact: "We are speaking about an archaeological object of the utmost historical and aesthetic importance. No ornament of similar quality can be found in any Peruvian museum and it is inconceivable that such an important national treasure is out of our country."
Detectives believe the piece was extracted from the archaeological site of La Mina, in the Jequetepeque valley in north Peru, where a tomb was looted in 1988. The contents were immediately trafficked on the black market.
The headdress was recovered in London and will be repatriated through diplomatic channels.
Walter Alva photo source