Saturday, June 16, 2007

Maya News Updates 2007, No. 41: Leiden - Unprovenanced Jaws With Inlayed Teeth Have a Copan Origin
Yesterday, June 15, 2007, during a short ceremony celebrated at the Gravensteen Building in Leiden, the Netherlands, the remains of two jaws and a couple vertebrae of two individuals were returned to the Embassy of Honduras in the Netherlands. The return of these human remains took place after the remains were scientifically examined at Leiden University, the Netherlands, on the request of the Embassy of Honduras, who had received these remains last year through an anonymously send postal package mailed in the Netherlands and addressed to the Embassy.
The ceremony was introduced by Alex Geurds, Ph.D. candidate at Leiden University. The ceremony opened by a short presentation by Dr. Raphael Panhuysen of Leiden University, who presented the first results of the scientific examination. There were two jaws, belonging to separate individuals, in which a total of twelve decorated teeth could be observed. The dental decoration of the teeth concerned the intentional filing of some of the frontal teeth as well as jade and iron pyrite inlays. The jaws were examined further to possibly determine the provenance of these human remains, which was established through a strontium isotope analysis of the enamel of the teeth. The result of the analysis of the enamel deposited during the early life of the individual provided a strontium ratio of the enamel that is similar to the value for water from the Copan river. As Dr. Panhuysen concluded, it is most likely that the remains of one or both indivuduals did originate from Copan.
After this presentation, Prof. Dr. Maarten Jansen, Leiden University, adressed the audience and the representative of the Embassy of Honduras. At the end of his address Dr. Jansen officially returned the human remains to Sergio Acosta, the Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Honduras in the Netherlands. In his address Acosta stressed the importance of the colloboration and the importance of the return of cultural patromony, in this particular case the return of the human remains from an anonymous Dutch collector.
In an upcoming Maya News Update more information on the scientific research on these remains and the return of cultural patromony will be presented (written by Erik Boot/Maya News Updates).


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