Bus inspection yields what may be archaeological artifacts

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Segruidad Pública photos
Two of the four pots confiscated from a bus.

Fuerza Pública officers who searched a public bus Sunday in Limón turned up an unattended package containing four pre-Columbian-type pots.

Officers confiscated the ceramics when none of the passengers came forward to claim the package.

Transporting archaeological pieces is a crime in Costa Rica even though many homes of long-time residents have museum quality collections. And that does not include the stone spheres on the front lawn.

The Costa Rican law is designed to dissuade pot hunters who steal the objects from a pro-Columbian site and sell them. Such artifacts lose all their scientific value when they are severed from where they were found. The Museo Nacional has many confiscated objects that have no provenance or history.

The four pots confiscated Sunday might not even be old, although the tests to determine age on pottery are expensive and destructive.

Police said they were told later that the pots were on the way to a museum, but by that time the artifacts were in the hands of the judiciary.

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