In Lima on 20 March, during Federal President Gauck’s visit to Peru, the Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Maria Böhmer, presented a valuable ancient sacrificial knife (tumi) to the Peruvian Minister for Culture.
The tumi, which is probably around 800 years old, is made of copper alloy and most likely comes from Peru’s northern coast, where such knives were used for ritual purposes and later as burial objects.
Handing over the tumi at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Lima, Minister of State Böhmer said:
I am delighted that we are able to present the tumi to the Peruvian Government. It is part of Peru’s rich cultural heritage. Protecting cultural property against illegal trading is of great importance to my Government and to me personally. The German authorities acted quickly and efficiently to return this object to its legal owners. Ensuring effective protection for cultural property is also one of my priorities as President of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee and host of the World Heritage Conference in Germany in June and July this year.
It is not known how the Peruvian tumi came to be in Germany. It was offered for sale through an auction house in 2013. In response to a request from Peru transmitted via INTERPOL, the Berlin Regional Criminal Police seized the knife and launched an investigation against the owner for receiving stolen goods. The Berlin Public Prosecution Office also ordered extrajudicial confiscation of the tumi and its handover to the Peruvian authorities, which has now taken place.