Updated: Fri, 12 Jul 2013 17:18:55 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Switzerland returns pre-Columbian treasure to Peru

Swiss authorities said Friday they had returned a pre-Columbian ceramic jug to Peru after police caught someone trying to sell it over the Internet.


Switzerland returns pre-Columbian treasure to Peru

Moche ceramics part of the permanent exhibit at the tomb ofa priestess complex, a sanctuary developed between 200 and 700 AD, near Lima on May 26, 2013. Swiss authorities said Friday they had returned a pre-Columbian ceramic jug to Peru after police caught someone trying to sell it over the Internet.

The Geneva public prosecutor's office said it had returned the small, two-handled jug dating from the pre-Columbian Chancay period between the 12th and 15th centuries to the Peruvian embassy in Bern.

"It is priceless," Sophie Bernard, a spokeswoman for the office, told AFP.

Federal Swiss police had discovered last year that a man born in 1981 and living in Geneva was trying to sell the archaeological artifact over the Internet using a pseudonym, the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The beige jug with its dark-lined motif had likely been found during "illegal excavations carried out in the valleys of Chillon, Chancay or Huara", to the north of Lima, it said.

The person who tried to sell the archaeological treasure would face charges for handling stolen goods and violating a law prohibiting the transfer of cultural objects, it added.

He could face up to five years behind bars, Bernard said.

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