For centuries, the dead guarded precious objects in their graves: painted terra cotta dishes, figurines, gold ornaments and other pre-Columbian artifacts.
For the dead, they were offerings and objects for the afterlife, a sign of their prestige.
For looters and an Italian smuggler caught in South Florida, they were prime merchandise.
Now the artifacts will return home. Not to their unknown graves, but to their home country, Colombia.
More than 60 artifacts — some more than 2,000 years old — were being flown to Colombia Tuesday, after the director of that country's anthropology institute and the special U.S. immigration officer who worked the case signed the official repatriation certificate.
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