The United States Customs has announced that they intercepted ancient carved stones known as the Ikom Monoliths smuggled illegally from Cross River State to Cameroon and then to America.

Experts believe that the artefacts date back between 200 A.D. and 1000 A.D.

Example of an Ikom monolith

According to a statement from officials of the US Customs and Border Protection, the Ikom Monolith with human facial features was intercepted at the Miami International Airport in a cargo shipped to the US using fraudulent documents.

UNESCO notes that they “bear a form of writing and a complex system of codified information…each stone, like the human fingerprint, is unique from every other stone in its design and execution”.

Without giving precisions on the number of stones seized, the customs officials indicated that the artefacts will be returned to Cameroon, Journal du Cameroun reports.

Robert Del Toro, the agency’s Acting Port Director at the Miami International Airport, said, “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.”

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