The message to tourists is clear: When buying a modern replica of an archaeological piece, a receipt is mandatory.
The Policía Aeroportuaria found a U.S. tourist who was bound for Atlanta carrying five objects that seemed to be authentic works of pre-Columbian residents. The pieces were confiscated Saturday, and, in fact, they seem to be far from museum quality.
Yet, Costa Rica guards its ancient past aggressively. The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said this was the second case of officers finding a presumed archaeological piece in two weeks. The other case was at the Peñas Blancas border crossing, the ministry said.
That person has a human figure in stone, the ministry added.
Airport police said they contacted the Museo Nacional after finding the five pieces at Juan Santamaría. airport.
Generally archaeological artifacts are more valuable if they are located in place and that location is documented. What police confiscated was a well worn human figure and four stones that may have been used to create the figure.
Costa Rica has artists that can create replicas that might fool even the experts. So those who purchase them should expect to be questioned at the airport.
In Guaitil, Guanacaste, residents are making pottery with the same techniques, the same clay and the same forms that their ancestors made to the Aztecs and Maya. These are highly sought as souvenirs, but airport police are not likely to know the difference unless the traveler has receipts.