BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese cultural relics returned from Italy will be on display at the National Museum of China in Beijing from Wednesday.
The exhibition, titled "The Journey Back Home" showcases more than 700 pieces of returned Chinese artifacts, including a painted pottery pot from the Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - 8 A.D.), a colored camel pottery figurine from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and a white-glazed bowl from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
China and Italy exchanged related certificates for returning 796 Chinese cultural relics on March 23. This batch of Chinese artifacts arrived in Beijing on April 10.
This was the largest return of lost Chinese cultural relics in nearly 20 years, according to Luo Shugang, China's Minister of Culture and Tourism.
The artifacts were found by accident. They were first noticed by a unit of Carabinieri, or the national gendarmerie of Italy, on the local relics auction market in 2007, which was followed by a domestic judicial trial.
Most of the artifacts were found to have been unearthed in China and made their way to Italy without legal exit permits. In accordance with relevant international conventions, China requested Italy to return the artifacts.
Italy's Milan City Court confirmed the Chinese government's ownership of the cultural artifacts in 2014 and made the final decision to return the 796 artifacts to China in November 2018.
According to Lyu Chenglong, an archaeologist with the Palace Museum, the returned cultural relics, some of which date back to the Neolithic Age, provide rich evidence for Chinese ancient history research.
"The camel, horse and human pottery figurines from the Tang Dynasty carry important information about cultural exchanges between the East and West in ancient times," he said.
The exhibition will be open until June 30.
China and Italy began personnel exchanges on archaeology, cultural relics and museums in the 1980s, and have been working on the return of Chinese cultural relics with judicial, diplomatic and other collaboration over the past decade.
China has also been pushing forward legislation regarding cultural relic protection and strengthening the crackdown on cultural relics-related law violations for the past decades.
More than 5,000 pieces of Chinese cultural relics have been repatriated from countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, as result of efforts made by China such as law enforcement cooperation with other countries, lawsuits and negotiations.
Taking the return of these cultural relics as a start point, China and Italy will further improve their negotiations, policy coordination and law enforcement collaboration, and will promote multiple cooperation regarding cultural relic protection, said Guan Qiang, deputy head of China's National Cultural Heritage Administration.