Paleontological fossils repatriated to Morocco presented in Rabat

The Minister of Youth, Culture and Communication, Mehdi Bensaid, chaired Thursday in Rabat a ceremony to present paleontological fossils repatriated to Morocco after being illegally extracted from the country.

The ceremony offered the opportunity to highlight the operation of February 17, which allowed the return to Morocco of a fossil skull of Crocodilus phosphaticus, dating back 56 million years.

This operation to restore the fossil, found by the Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States of America on a farm belonging to an American amateur archaeologist in the state of Indiana in 2014, alongside 7,000 other artefacts, is part of within the framework of the implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

It is also part of the cooperation between Morocco and the United States of America, in particular the Memorandum of Understanding for the preservation of Moroccan cultural heritage, signed on January 14, 2021 in Rabat.

Alongside this fossil, other artefacts were presented, seized on French territories between 2005 and 2006 and returned to Morocco on January 5, 2021, thanks to the efforts of the Kingdom and France as well as the cooperation of the competent authorities of the two country.

For Mehdi Bensaid, “this achievement is part of the dynamic partnership with a group of countries, in particular the United States and France, which have contributed to the restitution of this natural heritage extracted illegally”.

Photo Mounir Mehimdate

The restitution, he added, is of historical-scientific importance, especially for researchers in the fields of specialization, as it provides new information related to the ecosystem at times of this historical era.

The cultural counselor at the French Embassy, ​​Clélia Chevrier Kolačko, for her part noted that this operation reflects the common will of the Moroccan and French authorities to fight firmly against the illicit trafficking of cultural property.

Photo Mounir Mehimdate

For her part, the Public Affairs Counselor at the US Embassy, ​​Kathleen Eagen, underlined the commitment of the United States of America to apply the memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries for the preservation of Moroccan cultural heritage, saying “happy to see the fossil skull of Crocodilus phosphaticus return to its land of origin after being presented during a ceremony at the Moroccan Embassy in Washington”.



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