Authorities in Cusco confiscated Inca and pre-Inca ceramics and textiles that were being sold to tourists in stores in the city’s historic center, according to state news agency Andina.
Police Major Yuri Cervantes said there were a total of 180 objects, including ceramic pots, textiles and metal artifacts from the Inca, Chimu and Chancay cultures.
The archaeological pieces were being confiscated in boxes from stores on Cusco’s Pasaje Inca Roca in the San Blas neighborhood.
Archaeologist Miguel Colque said the objects were likely found by grave robbers or stolen. Authorities said they planned to charge the individuals who were selling the objects.
The law prohibits the sale of antiquities —colonial and pre-hispanic art and artifacts— not only for shipment abroad but within Peru itself. Objects such as pre-hispanic pots and colonial paintings can be held in private collections in Peru but should be registered with the Ministry of Culture.
Archaeological looting and art theft are major problems in Peru, which has a rich history of Inca and pre-Inca cultures, as well as the Spanish colonial era. The government over the years has reached important agreements with other governments to prevent the smuggling of archaeological and historical objects into those countries from Peru, and has also been successful in recovering hundreds of objects through these agreements. The high demand in the illegal antiquities trade worldwide, however, makes it difficult for countries like Peru to stop all smuggling.