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Rare Afghan artifacts and vase returned in Washington ceremony

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Sept. 9, 2013: ICE returned five gold artifacts and an ancient vase to the Afghanistan during a repatriation ceremony at the Embassy in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Five gold artifacts and an ancient vase were returned to Afghanistan Monday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The items were presented in a ceremony at the Afghan Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“I’m delighted that HSI has been instrumental in returning to the Afghan people a long lost piece of their history that should have never been stolen,” said HSI Assistant Director John Connolly.

The vase is a 12.75-inch Roman oinochoe, or wine pitcher, from the 5th to 8th century A.D. Also returned were three 4-by-3.25-inch 5th century B.C. gold foil appliques depicting antelopes and two antique coiled gold ornaments from approximately the 17th century, weighing approximately one pound.

They were seized on March 21, 2011 at Newark Liberty Airport as part of a shipment enroute to a New York City man and later to a New York business suspected of dealing in looted cultural property, according to ICE.

“These items are national treasures that form the country’s identity and distinguish Afghanistan from the rest of the world,” Ambassador Eklil Hakimi said during the  return ceremony.