Aztec skull seized in shipment traveling to South Carolina

Ancient artifacts were intercepted in a shipment in Louisville last month, officials say.

Ancient artifacts were intercepted in a shipment in Louisville last month, officials say.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Ancient artifacts seized last month from a shipment traveling to South Carolina may be 1,000 years old, officials say

The collection of artifacts was intercepted from a package arriving from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Officers in Louisville confiscated the shipment and received help from the National Targeting Center Antiquities Unit to learn of the origin.

The shipment contained a skull sculpture and 12 adzes, which are ancient tools used for chopping, officials said. The collection is from the Post-classic to the Aztec ea, around 1100 through 1532 AD.

The items were being shipped to Sumter, South Carolina, to be sold.

“I’m extremely proud that our officers were able to stop priceless artifacts from being lost forever,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director of the Field Operations-Chicago Field Office. “Customs and Border Protection will continue to use our border authority to identify and rescue precious antiquities being smuggled by those who profit on the theft of historical and cultural property and return them to their rightful owners.”

Laws are in effect in most countries to protect ancient art, artifacts and antiquities.

In the last year, Customs and Border Protection officers have recorded 21 seizures of cultural property worth and estimated $18 million.

Mike Stunson covers real-time news for McClatchy. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter and the Lexington Herald-Leader as a breaking news reporter.
Support my work with a digital subscription