efe_epaGuatemala City

Guatemalan authorities in 2016 recovered 22 archaeological pieces and fragments that had been stolen from Maya sites and taken abroad, the Culture Ministry announced Tuesday.

The pieces were presented on Tuesday during a ceremony held at the National Palace of Culture and hosted by Guatemalan Culture Minister Jose Luis Chea.

According to the ministry, in February 2016 an archaeological piece seized by Italian authorities was recovered.

That same month, nine pieces, including masks, were turned over to the Guatemalan Embassy in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, last June in Berlin three archaeological pieces were recovered.

In Los Angeles, California, last September, the FBI recovered seven archaeological pieces, including four limestone fragments of a famous Maya stela - Stela 34 - the ministry said.

Stela 34 was found at the Peru Waka archaeological site in northern Peten province. The stela represents a woman identified as Lady K'abel, who is described as a female warlord, and dates from about the year 700.

In October, two panels of a Maya stela were recovered from El Salvador. The fragmentary pieces had been displayed at the Tesak Museum, although their return had been requested through diplomatic channels almost three-and-a-half years ago.

Those two panels are from the Aguacateca and Dos Pilas sites located in Peten, which was the cradle of the Maya civilization.

National Archaeology Museum director Daniel Aquino told EFE that the 22 pieces will be stored at the museum and later incorporated into the permanent cultural heritage exhibition.