The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts announced that 14 cultural artefacts touched down in the Kingdom on July 3. Their impending return, from one of the largest cultural institutions in the world, New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (the "MET"), was announced in December last year. The repatriation follows several years of negotiations between the Cambodian restitution team, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and representatives of the MET, said a ministry press release.  According to the release, the artefacts include the body of an extraordinary stone sculpture of a 10th-century female goddess (Uma) from the ancient royal capital of Koh Ker. The foot of the statue was identified at the Koh Ker temple complex in 2021. The ministry explained that based on testimony from former looters, the sculpture’s body was stolen in 1997. “At last, the pieces of the Uma will be joined to achieve its full magnificence as one complete statue,” it added. Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona said the return of the national treasures that were held by the MET is of the utmost importance, not only for Cambodia, but for all of humankind.  “There are many more of the Kingdom’s treasures at the MET which we hope will be returned to Cambodia. We are thrilled that a number of private collectors and museums have reached out to us in recent months, and we expect many more significant returns in the future," she was quoted as saying in the release. She added that the repatriation demonstrates Cambodia’s continued commitment to finding and bringing back the souls of the ancestors that were taken from the motherland during past decades of civil war. Another “exceptionally rare” and “expertly crafted” statue which was returned is a late 10th or early 11th-century bronze Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, which the MET called “Seated in Royal Ease”. The piece was sold to the MET by the late Douglas Latchford in 1992. Latchford has since been described as a nefarious dealer in stolen antiquities, even by the MET itself, said the release. Also part of today’s consignment is a 10th-century bronze head of the deity Avalokiteshvara, which will finally be reunited with its torso, currently on display at the National Museum of Cambodia. The head is believed to have been looted in the 1990s, while the torso was discovered in a river in Battambang province in the 1930s, the ministry said. Sackona expressed her gratefulness for the efforts of US attorney Damian Williams of the SDNY, the prosecutors from the SDNY, Jessica Feinstein and Shiva Logarajah, investigators from HSI, and Special Agents John Labbat and Robert Mancene, along with all other authorities both abroad and in Cambodia who were involved in the returns. She offered particular thanks to the US embassy in Phnom Penh, the Ministry's team of archaeologists and researchers, as well as Bradley J. Gordon of Edenbridge Asia, Steven Heimberg of Apex Advisors, Melina Antoniadis of NOSTOS Strategies and Professor Ashley Thompson of SOAS, who assisted with the negotiations. “These returns contribute to the reconciliation and healing of the Cambodian people, who endured decades of civil war and suffered tremendously from the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge regime. They also demonstrate the positive partnership we have developed with the US,” she said.