Amlo gestures for the return of ancient artifacts

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) urges the Vienna museum to lend Mexico an artifact that belongs to its Aztec past, the Expansion Politica reported. 

The artifact is a headdress that was allegedly owned by the last Aztec Emperor, Moctezuma II (1566-1520). 

Last Tuesday, the Mexican President condemned how the artifact, originally from Mexico, remains outside the country. 

According to Politica, the Mexican government wanted to take back the headdress for Mexico’s 2021 celebration of three historical events.

2021 will mark the 700th anniversary of the founding of Tenochtitlan, the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence, and the 500th anniversary of the Spanish Colonization of the Americas, per Euronews.

The Mexican government has repeatedly asked for the headdress’ return to Mexico since 1991, per Politica.

The AMLO administration had even asked Beatriz Gutierrez Mueller, Mexico’s first lady, to appeal for its return along with various artifacts.

However, the Museum of Vienna maintains it is too dangerous to send the artifact back due to its fragile state. 

According to the museum, Mexico cannot have the artifact “at least in the next ten years.”

The Anthropological Museum of Vienna’s curator, Gerard van Brussel said the material of the headdress is mainly organic, per Reform. 

It means vibrations in the air or on the road might affect and damage it.

Moving the artifact is too risky that even inside the same museum, they would not dare move it for fear of damage. 

Moctezuma-II in a charcoal portrait

Discovery of the Headdress

The artifact is made of 400 quetzal feathers, and 68 pieces of 24-karat gold, per Politica.

Austrian explorer, Ferdinand von Hochstetter, discovered the artifact at a dusty drawer of a castle in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1878.

According to Atlas Obscura, Hochstetter realized the item belongs to Mesoamerica during the time of the Aztecs.

He realized it is also possible that Moctezuma II once owned the item.

In fact, it may be one of the treasures the Aztec emperor gave to the Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes. 

However, he did not know what it was. 

Later on, an American anthropologist, Zelia Nuttal, identified the artifact as an Aztec headdress, based on surviving Aztec codices, per Atlas Obscura.

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