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Ancient carving stolen decades ago in Mexico found in France

Ancient carving stolen decades ago in Mexico found in France

Ancient carving stolen decades ago in Mexico found in France
A 2-meter-high, several thousand-year-old sculpture is pictured at the Mexican Cultural institute of Paris, France, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. The sculpture was handed to Mexican authorities 45 years after it disappeared from Mexico. The …more

A nearly 3,000-year-old carving stolen more than four decades ago from a remote area of southern Mexico has been recovered in France.

The Olmec carving dating to around 900 B.C. had been chipped off the rock face sometime between the arrival of an in 1968 and 1972, when the team returned to the area. It resurfaced recently in France under unclear circumstances.

John Clark, a professor of archaeology at Brigham Young University who learned about the find Thursday, said the carved sculpture showed the extent of the Olmec’s reach in an area of Chiapas better known for ties to the Maya. In the decades since the theft, he said, scholars have made due with a replica created by examining archive photos of the piece.

The Olmec are best known for their enormous carved heads and are considered one of the founding cultures of Mesoamerica.

Dominique Michelet, a French archaeologist at the CNRS research center involved in recovering the piece, said Thursday the bas relief is believed to represent a priest.

Clark said chunks of the cut-out stone were missing, but it appeared largely intact.

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