The stone weight was returned to HE Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, High Commissioner of Pakistan at a ceremony which took place at the High Commission on 8 December 2021.
The 9.5 kilogram object dates back to the late 4th to 3rd millennium BCE. It had been excavated from a Bronze Age site in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province.
The stone weight was illegally removed from Pakistan and intercepted by the Australian Border Force upon entry into Australia from the United States of America.
Australian Border Force alerted the Cultural Property Section of the Office for the Arts, which undertook an investigation under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986.
After consultation with experts and a request from the Government of Pakistan, the object was seized so it could be returned.
Objects such as this help to broaden our knowledge of cultural practices throughout history that have shaped how we live today. This stone weight would have been used in watermills to control and regulate supply of wheat and other cereal grains to millstones. Such traditional watermills are still functional on river sides in hilly areas of Pakistan.
Both Australia and Pakistan are signatories to the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property 1970, providing for international cooperation to prevent and abate the trafficking of cultural material.