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The Netherlands has returned 8 valuable archaeological artifacts illegally taken out of Ukraine

21 Mar, 2024
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The Netherlands has returned 8 valuable archaeological artifacts illegally taken out of Ukraine

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Today, March 20, Alfred Russ, the director of the Inspection of Information and Heritage of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science of the Netherlands, handed over to the Embassy of Ukraine in the Netherlands 8 archaeological artifacts that were previously illegally taken out of Ukraine.

The items include spearheads and arrowheads from various archaeological cultures and regions of Ukraine, dating from Roman times to the Middle Ages.

The Ukrainian cultural heritage items were intercepted by Dutch customs officials after their arrival in the Netherlands in March 2023. The Inspection of Information and Heritage worked with experts from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden to investigate the origin of the items. The investigation revealed that the items were likely illegally exported.

After experts from the National Museum of Ukrainian History confirmed this conclusion, the Inspection took the items under protection. At the same time, the owner of the items, to whom they were addressed, waived any claims to them because they constitute cultural heritage of Ukraine protected by law. Additionally, they were found to have been illegally exported.

 

 

Earlier, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine stated that these archaeological items are cultural treasures of Ukraine. They hold historical, scientific, and ethnographic significance for the country. The items were exported from the territory of Ukraine in violation of national legislation on the export, import, and return of cultural treasures. Therefore, they need to be returned to Ukraine and transferred to the collections of state museums.

Ukrainian legislation prohibits the export of cultural objects without the consent of national authorities.

Ukraine's cultural heritage includes manuscripts, icons, religious heritage, textiles, coins, and archaeological objects. After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the risks to heritage institutions and archaeological sites increased significantly, and the country suffered greatly from looting and destruction. The EU and UNESCO actively assist Ukraine in protecting its cultural heritage. This involves special vigilance in identifying or offering items for sale.

In 2022, the International Council of Museums compiled a Red List with categories of vulnerable objects. The list aims to promote greater awareness of Ukrainian heritage, its recognition, and the identification of objects at high risk of illegal excavation, looting, and illegal export. The loss of cultural treasures damages knowledge of Ukraine and information about its history and uniqueness.

 

 

The items are being returned to Ukraine in accordance with the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 1970. Both the Netherlands and Ukraine are parties to the Convention. Member states are obligated to assist each other in identifying illegally exported items and take appropriate measures to return them to the country of origin. In this case, the Inspection investigated the origin of the items, and their owner waived any claims to them.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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