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3 Pre-Hispanic artifacts returned to Mexico

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September 13, 2013 11:16 PM EST | AP

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MEXICO CITY — Mexicans received their first chance Friday to see three pre-Hispanic stone carvings that were returned by the Lowe Art museum in Miami after they were apparently removed illegally from Mexico.

Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History says the three stone pieces depict a serpent, a water god and a priest or nobleman.

While it is hard to say what culture or ruin site they came from, the institute said Friday that experts will study them to try to determine more details.

"The Lowe museum contributed its part in this return, with a constructive spirit, by corroborating evidence that suggested the pieces were illegally removed from Mexican territory," the institute said in a statement.

The carvings were returned to Mexico in August. Institute authorities presented them to the public at a news conference on Friday.

One depicting a richly-attired male personage probably dates from between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.

Another carving depicts the water god Tlaloc and dates to between 700 and 900 A.D. The third, a carving of a serpent's head, dates to between 900 and 1,200 A.D.

The institute said the pieces were linked to Costa Rican dealer Leonardo Patterson, who built a reputation over the course of decades – and across several continents – for trading and displaying artifacts of dubious provenance.