Pieces of pottery, bronze ornaments and instruments, stone instruments, sandstone moulds and glass ornaments, stolen mostly from Ban Chiang บ้านเชียง, an archaeological site in Thailand's Northeast near Udon Thani: They all have returned to Thailand now and will be kept at Kanjanapisek National Musuem in Pathum Thani. The Bowers Museum in Santa Anna, California, has given back more than 550 artifacts. They were handed over to Thailand by the US government following almost a decade of investigation, as The Nation reports. The pieces date back to as early as 1500 before Christ. Ban Chiang-style pottery is unique in appearance, with its characteristic brownish orange hue and circular, stylised pattern.
Picture by Gryffindor
Example of Ban Chiang pottery, at Museum für Indische Kunst in Berlin-Dahlem
After a five-year undercover operation, US federal agents in 2008 had seized hundreds of allegedly looted antiquities from the Bowers, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, the Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma). The authorities were investigating an alleged smuggling network that funnelled looted Thai, Cambodian and Burmese artefacts into museums, as theartnewspaper.com wrote. One of the early targets of the investigation was Armand Labbé, the chief curator at the Bowers Museum for nearly three decades before his death in 2005, court records show. Labbé accepted two donations of illegally imported Thai antiquities from an undercover federal agent posing as a donor, the records allege according to the theartnewspaper.com. In exchange for the returns to Thailand, government prosecutors agreed not to criminally charge anyone at the Bowers, the museum’s lawyer says.
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