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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

France returns 25,000 stolen archaeological artefacts to Morocco

The haul includes a rare crocodile skull still partly in its gangue [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 October, 2020

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The items were seized by French customs authorities between 2005-2006.
France on Thursday returned close to 25,000 rare archaeological pieces to Morocco that were seized by French customs between 2005 and 2006.

The artefacts were handed over in a ceremony held at the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM) in Marseille, where Morocco's Consul General in the city, Said Bakhkhar, received the items.

“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,” said Chakib Benmoussa, Morocco's ambassador to France.

Among the 24,459 returned artefacts are fossils, trilobites, teeth, animal skulls and jaws, carved tools and arrowheads.
The items date back some 500,000 million years from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.

The haul also includes neolitic cave engravings, a crocodile skull still partly in its gangue and fish teeth from the second Paleogenic era.

The return of the items follows efforts from Morocco's Ministry of Culture aimed at combatting the illicit trafficking of historical artefacts.

It comes in accordance with the two states' commitment to the 1970 UNESCO Convention for the prohibition and prevention of the import, export and transfer of cultural property.

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