US customs have announced they intercepted ancient carved stones known as Ikom monoliths from Cameroon illegally smuggled into the United States.
According to a statement from officials of the US Customs and Boarder Protection, CBP the Ikom monolith with human facial features was intercepted at the Miami International Airport Tuesday October 20 in a cargo shipped to the US using fraudulent documents.
Experts believe the artefacts date back between 200 A.D. and 1000 A.D.
According to UNESCO they “bear a form of writing and a complex system of codified information…each stone, like the human finger print, is unique from every other stone in its design and execution.”
The Ikom monoliths come from the area around the town of Ikom, in the state of Cross River in southern Nigeria bordering with Cameroon.
Without giving precisions on the number of stones seized, the Customs officials indicated that the artefacts will be returned to Cameroon.
“CBP has a critical role in protecting cultural property and preventing illicit trafficking…This is just the latest example of ever-vigilant CBP teams working with our federal partners to enforce international repatriation laws of ancient artefacts.” said Robert Del Toro, the agency’s acting port director at the Miami International Airport.