A report from the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper of Canada states that a treasure trove of Mayan artifacts now housed in the Royal Ontario Museum, will be returned to Belize for placement in the National Museum in Belmopan.
The collection is the result of more than three decades of work by Dr. David Pendergast and his wife, Prof. Elizabeth Graham, the two people most responsible for the international reputation of Altun Ha, the Rockstone Pond site where the famous Jade Head, Kenich Ahau, was discovered.
Dr. Pendergast retired from the Royal Ontario Museum earlier this year, and his wife, Prof. Graham is about to leave York University to take up an appointment as lecturer in Mesoamerican archeology at the University of London.
Under an agreement-reached in 1960 between the Royal Ontario Museum and the Belize Government, the museum was allowed to keep many of the excavated artifacts on loan, to be housed in a new Mayan gallery. But in 30 years the proposed Mayan Gallery never came into being.
"Basically the ROM never got its act together", declared Dr. Dorie Reents-Budet, Director of the Museum of World Cultures at the University of North Carolina. "This is a priceless loss to the people of Canada."
Mrs. Pendergast has said she is frustrated with the difficulty of obtaining research grants in Canada.
"Why keep me at a University if I have no money for research and my students have no place to go?" she asked.
The first shipment of artifacts to Belize will include outstanding jade figures and jewelry from the Altun Ha site.
The National Museum of Belize in Belmopan has yet to be built, but the government has been setting aside money for the day when the building can take shape.