The United States has sent back over 900 stolen artifacts to Mali during a ceremony held in the West African nation’s capital on Tuesday.
The looted archeological and ethnographic objects totalling 921 arrived in Mali last week.
Despite being previously listed as replicas, the objects had been illegally trafficked in the U.S.
At Bamako’s national museum, Mali Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga and U.S. envoy Dennis Hankins opened carefully packed boxes containing the objects as the media watched.
The objects were handed over to the PM by ambassador Hankins in a symbolic gesture.
“The United States Government’s fine example deserves to be followed by all countries where national heritage objects are kept”, Maiga said to reporters.
Initially, the items were discovered in 2009 but were handed over to anthropologists to determine their authenticity.
Part of the artifacts are flax stones and axe heads dating from the Neolithic period.
The treasure trove also has six funerary urns dated between 900 and 1700 C.E and a high-necked polychrome pot dated to between 1100 and 1400 C.E.
Coups in Mali, including one in May this year have complicated efforts to tackle the illegal trafficking of cultural and historical objects, and delayed the return of the 900 artifacts.
Mali’s 2012 coup unleashed years of chaos in the nation when the ensuing power vacuum allowed Islamic extremists later ousted by a French military operation.
Mali is set to display the artifacts in the country’s museums.