By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
An American collector and a Thai doctor living in the US have returned 46 prehistoric Ban Chiang artefacts to Thailand.
The collectors sent the items to the Foreign Ministry for them to be handed over to the Culture Minister.
“The smuggled artefacts date back between 1,800 and 4,000 years and once belonged to the American collector and a Thai doctor, who now lives in the USA.
They intended to return these national treasures to their homeland,” Culture Minister Vira Rojpojanarat said yesterday at the National Library in Bangkok.
The returned artefacts, which include pottery and metal bracelets, are in good condition.
The Fine Art Department will preserve the returned collections and register them before putting them on show at the National Museum. The collections will then be displayed at Ban Chiang Museum in Udon Thani, since they were discovered at the Ban Chiang archaeological site nearby.
“For over four years the Thai government has called for the return of over 700 artworks from abroad, mostly from the US and another one from Australia,” he added.
“Thank you for the good cooperation between the US and Thai governments for their successful return.”
Last October, an American collector returned 12 pieces of the Ban Chiang collection to the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Thai government and its US counterparts are in the process of calling for more than 250 more artefacts to be returned from museums in the US and UK.
“The US Department of Homeland Security is investigating the case of two prominent 11th-century stone lintels, from Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram province and Prasat Khao Lon in Sa Kaew province, now in the permanent collections of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco,” Vira revealed.
“The case is before a US court, which will decide in early February. We expect to get these masterpieces back to our Kingdom soon.”