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Mexico gets its treasures back; stolen artifacts on display again at Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology.

Mexico gets its treasures back As if taking their cue from the infamous grinch who stole Christmas, thieves broke into Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology in the early morning of December 25, 1985, and made off with 124 priceless pre-Columbian treasures. Years passed, and no leads turned up, leaving museum curators and law enforcement officials with little hope of recouping any of the objects lost in the country's largest museum theft ever.

Then, last June, police found 111 of the undamaged artifacts stashed in a home just outside Mexico City. Eight more have since been recovered, leaving only five still at large. All of the recovered artifacts are now back on display in various exhibit halls in this vast and fascinating museum.

More than half of the stolen artifacts were pieces of ancient jewelry fashioned by Mixtec goldsmiths, who once lived in the mountainous Oaxaca region. You can find the items in the ground-floor exhibition room devoted to that region. Also returned to the room is a jade mask representing a bat god of the Zapotec people.

In the adjacent room, containing objects created by the Mexica (or Aztec) people, look for a shiny obsidian urn carved in the shape of a monkey. A mosaic mask composed of jade, shell, and obsidian fragments now resides again in the Maya exhibition room.

Labels describing the museum's artifacts are only in Spanish. However, English-language tours (one hour; 40 cents) are offered on demand Tuesdays through Saturdays. Tour guides will point out objects throughout the museum that were recovered from the heist.

The museum, on Paseo de la Reforma in Chapultepec Park, is open from 9 to 7 Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 to 6 Sundays (closed Mondays). Admissions is 35 cents (free on Sundays).
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Date:Jan 1, 1990
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