The Chinese items found at Don Miller's home were returned to the country last week. (PHOTO BY ZHANG RUINAN/CHINA DAILY)
Cultural items repatriated after raid on U.S. farm
Five years ago, when Tim Carpenter's team seized about 7,000 artifacts and cultural relics in a raid on a farm in Indiana, United States, the FBI agent was stunned by just how many there were and their variety, and immediately realized many were from other countries, including China.
A total of 361 relics and artifacts identified as being from China were repatriated by the U.S. government on Feb 28.
Ranging from the Neolithic Age (10,000-2,000 BC) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the items included stoneware, jade objects, bronze weapons and pottery. The haul constituted the largest repatriation of relics from the U.S. since 2009, when the country and China signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in this respect.
"We seized about 5,000 artifacts and about 2,000 human bones," Carpenter, head of the FBI's Art Crime Team said, adding that the bones were from about 500 humans and had been unearthed at ancient Native American burial sites.
He said the items were seized from the home of 91-year-old Indiana missionary Don Miller, adding that about half of them were Native American, and the remainder were from other countries, including China.
"Miller's collecting career spanned decades and he visited China and neighboring countries on a number of occasions, so I think that on each of these trips he collected a certain number (of these items) and was able to bring them into America through various means.
"We began our dialogue with our Chinese counterparts two years ago, with inventories of part of the collection," Carpenter said, adding that his team started that process by "determining which pieces may be violations (of the law), which pieces may be not; which were authentic, and those that were questionable".