Ancient Mexican artifacts recovered abroad are among the archaeological treasures on display at an exhibition showcasing the country’s cultural heritage 200 years after its independence from Spain.
Entitled “The Greatness of Mexico,” the exhibit at the National Museum of Anthropology and another site features 1,500 rare pieces, including Mayan sculptures and Aztec codices.
Almost half of them are exhibited for the first time in Mexico, having been loaned or returned by European countries or collectors.
The exhibit shows “who we Mexicans are,” said Yectli Hernandez, a resident of Mexico City who came to the exhibit.
Hernandez said she was proud of the indigenous roots of her first name, as well as her Spanish last name, a reflection of Mexico’s diversity.
“I am as proud to walk into a cathedral as I am to visit pyramids,” Hernandez said.
The exhibition shows that “the history of this country did not begin just 500 years ago,” said Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero.
It was referring to the fall of the Aztec Empire to the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
The government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it had recovered more than 5,700 objects from foreign countries since the end of 2018.
Italian General Roberto Riccardi recently received the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor bestowed on a foreigner in Mexico, for his work in recovering archaeological finds.
Last month, Riccardi helped retrieve more than a dozen items that were to be auctioned in Italy.
“The sale of these objects constitutes an offense in the eyes of Mexican law”, declared the Minister of Culture.
Whenever there is an auction of Mexican objects, the government requests that they be seized and returned, said Bernard Tallet, outgoing director of the French Center for Studies on Mexico and Central America.
“Mexico says its works were stolen from it,” some in the colonial era and others in the 19th century, Tallet said.
Like many Mexicans, museum visitor Hernandez hopes more artifacts will be returned.
“The truth is they belong to us,” she said.
© 2021 AFP