Ancient Cameroon stone carvings recovered at South Florida airport

Sculptures were exporting using fraudulent documents

Customs officers at Miami International Airport intercepted an air cargo shipment containing ancient stone carvings from Cameroon known as “Ikom Monoliths”.
Customs officers at Miami International Airport intercepted an air cargo shipment containing ancient stone carvings from Cameroon known as “Ikom Monoliths”. (Photos courtesy of U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

MIAMI – Customs officers have recovered ancient stone carvings from Cameroon at a South Florida airport, authorities said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Tuesday that officers at Miami International Airport intercepted an air cargo shipment containing “Ikom Monoliths.” The stone sculptures had been exported to the U.S. using fraudulent documents, investigators said.

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Experts believe the artifacts date back between 200 A.D. and 1000 A.D. The items will be returned to the central African nation, officials said. No arrests or criminal charges were reported.

“CBP has a critical role in protecting cultural property and preventing illicit trafficking,” said Robert Del Toro, the agency's acting port director at MIA. “This is just the latest example of ever-vigilant CBP teams working with our federal partners to enforce international repatriation laws of ancient artifacts.”

Most countries have laws that protect their cultural property, such as art, artifacts, antiquities, or other archeological and ethnological material. These laws include export controls and national ownership of cultural property.

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