Artifacts Shipped from Sri Lanka to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Raise Eyebrows – Livescience.com
UPDATE: Ripley’s has contacted Live Science with new information. Representatives of the company say that none of the artifacts are from Sri Lanka and that the ship that they were being transported on was passing through the port of Colombo, Sri Lanka, before going to the United States. They also say that the artifacts were sent by Ripley’s several years ago to Innovative Film City in Bidadi, India, from the United States, and Ripley’s is now returning them. They declined to say what the artifacts are. They say that the artifacts are legal and the company does not engage in the purchase of looted or stolen artifacts.
Original story below.
A massive trove of “artifacts” has been shipped from Sri Lanka, a country recovering from a civil war, to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! — a company known for its unusual objects.
The artifacts arrived by ship in Miami on May 15, 2019, and were then sent to Ripley’s Orlando headquarters. The shipment, which consisted of three containers holding 125 artifacts, weighed a total of 43,155 pounds (19,575 kilograms), according to a bill of lading obtained by Live Science. That weight may include material used to pack the artifacts.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! is a company that has a 25,000-piece artifact collection that focuses on all things unusual, including an elongated skull belonging to a Peruvian; shrunken human heads; the remains of several two-headed animals; and even an 8-foot-long (2.4 meters) portrait of Albert Einstein made out of toast. Some of these artifacts are displayed in “odditoriums” located around the world.
The bill of lading only describes the items in the shipment as artifacts, and a spokesperson for Ripley’s declined to comment about what these artifacts are.
Sri Lanka has been recovering from a lengthy civil war fought between the Sri Lanka government and a separatist group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The war raged from 1983 to 2009, when the government captured the last territory held by the Tigers. During and after the war ended, looting of archaeological sites has been an ongoing problem in Sri Lanka.
Were the Ripley’s artifacts acquired through looting? Nobody can say whether the artifacts were looted or illegally obtained.
The shipment was sent by a company called Innovative Studios Private Ltd., based in Bidadi, India. This company could not be reached for comment.
The company owns a large site called “Innovative Film City” in Bangalore, India, where a popular Indian reality show, “Bigg Boss,” is filmed. The film city also houses a number of tourist attractions, such as a “Tribal Museum,” a “Fossil Museum” and a wax museum. The film city was reportedly damaged by a fire in February 2018, according to news reports. It’s not clear if any of the artifacts shipped to Ripley’s came from that city.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with comments from Ripley’s.
Originally published on Live Science.
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January 15, 2020 at 04:04PM