Archaeological Treasure Retrieved… French Authorities Praise Bilateral Cooperation

On Monday, March 8th, French authorities praised the "close and lasting bilateral cooperation between the Moroccan and French authorities" which enabled the return to Morocco of an invaluable archaeological treasure.

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On Monday, March 8th, French authorities praised the “close and lasting bilateral cooperation between the Moroccan and French authorities” which enabled the return to Morocco of an invaluable archaeological treasure.

At the end of last February, a ceremony was held in Morocco to retrieve approximately 25,000 archaeological objects that were confiscated in France in 2005 and 2006, in the presence of the French ambassador in Rabat, Hélène Le Gal, and Moroccan Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Othman El Ferdaous.

The French authorities highlighted, via their official website that the process of returning these artifacts, which is considered “the fruit of close and permanent bilateral cooperation between the Moroccan and French authorities,” is of “special importance in terms of informing and educating the public about the illegal destruction of the heritage.” In particular, it explains the importance of bilateral cooperation “between France and Morocco.

In total, 24 thousand and 459 fossil and archaeological pieces were returned to Morocco, including trilobites, tusks, skulls, animal jaws, arrow heads, primitive tools, and rock inscriptions, brought from semi-desert sites and the Little Atlas, dating back 500 thousand million years from the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) and Neolithic (New Stone Age) periods (6.130.00 years / – 6000 years).

This valuable treasure includes rock engravings, some dating back to the Neolithic period, and the skull of a crocodile which is partially still inside its rocky mold, an exceptional piece, especially since many of similar imitation pieces are offered for sale, along with fish and reptile teeth that date back mainly to the Eocene age, the second period from the Paleocene age, and the second from the Paleolithic age (33-56 million years ago).

These archaeological pieces were confiscated during three successive procedures carried out by authorities of Arles and Perpignan, between November 2005 and November 2006.

French authorities welcomed the presentation of this recovered archaeological treasure, which consists of about 25 thousand items, at the first ceremony organized last October in Marseille. The total weight of these artifacts is approximately three tons, which were finally returned to the Kingdom of Morocco.

The recovery of these artifacts falls within the framework of the Ministry of Culture’s action plan to protect heritage and combat illicit trafficking of cultural property, especially movable heritage.

This also comes in line with the international obligations of Morocco and France regarding the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention to prohibit and prevent the import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property to which both countries take part in.

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