US man returns artefact to Pakistan: report

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An American citizen has returned a relic to Pakistan as part of a repatriation of 19 antiquities to four countries, the Guardian reported on Friday.

The report said that John Gomperts took the decision after reading news in the Guardian about the return of stolen antiquities and realised that the items he had inherited from his grandmother were worth up to £80,000 and could have been sourced from “illicit excavations” since they had no collecting history.

The report added that he wanted to do the “right thing legally and ethically” by returning the items to Pakistan, Italy, Greece and Cyprus respectively. He returned the items after his two siblings agreed to the move.

The report said that one item belonged to Pakistan, two to Cyprus, four to Italy and 12 to Greece. It did not de scribe the artefact that was returned.

“It seemed like the right thing to do … I read stories on repatriation and I thought: we have these pieces that are 2,500 years old from other countries; we should explore whether we can give them back,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

However, the report added that he had no idea regarding how to go about the repatriation process and thus approached Prof. Christos Tsirogiannis, a former senior field archaeologist at the University of Cambridge and a specialist in antiquities and trafficking networks, for help.

“He reached out to me, which is a first for an owner of unprovenanced antiquities, asking for advice to do the right thing,” the report quoted the professor as saying. It added that he advised Gomperts to approach the respective embassies of the countries and hand over the items to them.

“The countries showed their appreciation, with notes of thanks to Gomperts and Tsirogiannis,” the report stated.

Last month, the US government repatriated 46 artifacts back to Pakistan, including the most notable $1.1 million Buddhapadha, which now fills the central space at the Islamabad Museum.

The Kushan period footprints of Buddha (Buddhapadha) were stolen from an unknown archaeological site in the Gandhara region of Pakistan in the 1980s and smuggled to the US.

 

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