Ancient lintels to arrive Friday

Ancient lintels to arrive Friday

Two ancient lintels, which authorities believed were stolen from archaeological sites in Thailand in the early 1960s, will be returned to the kingdom on Friday, the Fine Arts Department (FAD) said on Tuesday.

Once they arrive, the lintels -- which had been displayed at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco -- will be examined by experts before they are exhibited at the Bangkok National Museum near the Grand Palace for three months.

The lintels are believed to have come from Prasat Khao Lon historical sanctuary in Sa Kaeo and Prasat Nong Hong in Buri Ram.

Prateep Phengtako, director-general of the FAD, revealed yesterday that US authorities handed over the artefacts to the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles yesterday.

The lintels will be flown to Thailand aboard a Korean Air flight, through Incheon International Airport in South Korea.

The artefacts are expected to arrive on Friday, Mr Prateep said, adding the department is in talks with the Customs Department about the customs clearance procedure and a reduction in import duty.

"The lintels will be sent to Bangkok National Museum next Monday," said Mr Prateep.

The items will be examined by FAD experts, before they are displayed at the museum's main hall, also known as the Issara Vinijchai Throne Hall.

The exhibition's opening date has not been set due to the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases, but Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will preside over the opening of the exhibits, Mr Prateep said.

After the museum agreed to return the lintels, the FAD authorised the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles to sign a document to formally receive the lintels last month.

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