January 25, 2016
A US museum has returned to Thailand 83 ancient artefacts following an American government investigation found it had received looted cultural treasures.
Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said he had been informed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, via the Fine Arts Department, that the artefacts from Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California had arrived at the National Museum's warehouse in Pathum Thani province.
Examining the returned items, the Fine Arts Department found they were prehistoric objects from archaeological sites in the Northeast, mostly Ban Chiang -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site -- dated between 1,500 and 5,000 years old.
They include pottery, bronze bracelets, bronze axes, shell earrings, beads and rings.
Mr Vira said he had instructed the department to hold an exhibition of these priceless ancient objects for the public.
The museum was told by the US Attorney General in March last year to return the artefacts found in a high-profile 2008 federal investigation into allegations the museum had received looted cultural treasures. They had been in the museum's vaults for the last seven years.