The Guatemalan government announced the repatriation from the United States of a Mayan panel dating from the classic period, 250-900.

The limestone piece, which stands roughly 19 and a half inches tall, was taken from the La Corona site in the northern province of Petén, an area seen as the cradle of the ancient Maya civilization.

Guatemala learned in 2001 that the panel was part of a private collection in San Francisco, the country's deputy minister for Cultural and Natural Heritage, Rosa Maria Chan, told Efe.

Guatemalan officials eventually obtained the piece from an auction house that ended up with the panel after the death of the unnamed collector, she said.

In the last 10 years, Chan said, Guatemala has recovered more than 10,500 antiquities from the U.S., Germany, Britain and France, among other countries.

La Corona and the other archaeological sites in Petén were extensively looted in the past, she said.

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