Easter Island artifacts and human remains taken by the Norwegian anthropologist and explorer Thor Heyerdahl during two expeditions in the 20th century will be returned to the authorities on Easter Island.
The authorities there have long been calling for the return of artefacts from Norway and the UK. Thor Heyerdahl made several expeditions to Easter Island in the 1950s and 1980s and researchers say they figured out how the ancient people of Easter Island put 12-ton hats on the mysterious statues.
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Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo Returns Thousands of Easter Island Artefacts
Consuelo Valdes, Chile’s Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, and the explorer’s son, Thor Heyerdahl Jr., signed an agreement at a ceremony in Santiago recently stating that the collection would be returned. The items taken from Easter Island, known in the local language as Rapa Nui, include human bones and carved artifacts, according to the AFP news agency.
Consuelo Valdes said the deal was part of a “comprehensive agenda” that included ensuring the safeguarding of the artefacts upon their return.
A fulfillment of Thor Heyerdahl’s promise
“The repatriation is a fulfillment of my father’s promise to the Rapa Nui authorities that the objects would be returned after they had been analyzed and published,” Thor Heyerdahl Jr., stated at the agreement signing. Thor Heyerdahl Jr accompanied his father on one of his expeditions to Easter Island in 1955, when he was 17 years old.
The ceremony coincided with a state visit to Chile by Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja.
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A long repatriation process
While warning that the repatriation process would take some time, Martin Biehl, director of the Kon-Tiki museum said it was in the common interest to return the items and ensure they are delivered to a “well-equipped” museum. According to Chile’s culture ministry, the items will be rehoused in the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum on Easter Island.
British Museum in London has also been requested to return an important statue
Chile is also insisting that the British Museum in London give them back the spiritually important figure of Hoa Hakanani – a basalt statue carved by the island’s indigenous Rapa Nui people and said epitomize a significant ancestor.
Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo Returns Thousands of Easter Island Artefacts, written by Tor Kjolberg