A ceremony was held at the Vietnam National Museum of History on November 18 to receive ten artefacts, the earliest dating back to the Dong Son culture (BC 1,000 – AD 1st century), returned by the US.
At the handover ceremony (Photo: VNA)
The artefacts include a stone axe of the Post Neolithic Era (BC 4,500-3,500), three bronze axes and one ceramic saucepan of Dong Son culture; three stone crocodile sculptures of AD 1st – 2nd century and two bronze pipes from the 17th-18th century.
They were rediscovered in the US nearly ten years ago. In 2013, the FBI found that Donald Miller, an amateur archaeologist in Indiana, illegally possessed many artefacts from around the world.
In 2014, the FBI seized over 7,000 objects from him, who then rejected his right to the objects and cooperated with the FBI to return them to their legal owners.
In 2019, the FBI called on foreign governments to contact them and to send experts to examine the artefacts.
The Vietnamese Embassy in the US informed the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism that the FBI proposed returning some artefacts confirmed to be of Vietnamese origin. In mid-2022, the ministry sent a letter to the embassy expressing the willingness to receive all the artefacts.
In August, the Vietnamese embassy received the artefacts from the FBI. Two months later, the artefacts were sent to Vietnam and transferred to the museum, where experts examined them once more.
The artefacts include a stone axe of the Post Neolithic Era (BC 4,500-3,500), three bronze axes and one ceramic saucepan of Dong Son culture; three stone crocodile sculptures of AD 1st – 2nd century and two bronze pipes from the 17th-18th century. (Photo: VNA)
Addressing the ceremony, Pamnella DeVolder, Public Affairs Counselor at the US Mission to Vietnam, stressed that the US government is poised to support Vietnam in the investigation, research, reclamation and return of illegally-traded antiquities to their rightful countries. "This has been demonstrated through a Memorandum of Understanding on prevention and control of trans-national crimes, which was signed by the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security and the FBI," she said. To date, the US government has provided more than US$1.25 million in funding for the preservation of Vietnamese cultural artefacts, spanning 16 projects across the length and breadth of the country, she said.