US customs officials in Miami on Tuesday said they seized ancient carved stones from Cameroon known as Ikom monoliths that had been exported to the United States using fake documents.
Experts believe the stone sculptures were made sometime between 200 and 1,000 AD, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement.
According to UNESCO the carvings “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 round the town of Ikom, in the state of Cross River in southern Nigeria bordering with Cameroon.
The CBP did not say how many stone carvings they had seized, but did say that they will be “repatriated” to Cameroon.
“CBP has a critical role in protecting cultural property and preventing illicit trafficking,” said Robert Del Toro, CBP’s Acting Port Director at Miami International Airport.
He described it as “just the latest example” of CBP teams working federal agents “to enforce international repatriation laws of ancient artifacts.”