Some of the artifacts reportedly taken by Stephanie Jolluck (via Ministerio Publico de Guatemala)

An American woman was apprehended in Guatemala City on Sunday, November 13 for attempting to traffic 166 pre-Hispanic relics out of the country.

Police stopped a car that Stephanie Allison Jolluck was in with fellow US citizen Giorgio Salvador Rossilli and found dozens of relics in the vehicle. Her arrest followed a close call with authorities just three days prior, when she was stopped at the Guatemala City airport for trying to smuggle two Maya artifacts originating from between 600 and 900 CE into the US, according to the Associated Press. She claimed to officials that she had purchased the stone carvings from a market in Antigua, and a judge released her pending trial.

Guatemala’s Culture Ministry indicated that the two Maya artifacts are likely Maya “axes” — possibly used for sacred ball games that were central to ancient Maya cultural traditions. They also shared images of the objects that Jolluck attempted to smuggle on Twitter.

A woman by the same name describes herself on her personal website as a designer and a photographer and shares examples of her “Guatemalan street photography,” including a series titled Women Hold Up Half the Sky, which depicts Guatemalan “indigenous & ladino women … walking with items on their heads on the cobblestone streets of Antigua.” Other posts on the woman’s Instagram include a photograph of a Ceiba tree that “Maya & other pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures considered sacred.” Hyperallergic contacted the website’s owner, Stephanie Jolluck, for comment.

Jolluck may face charges of trafficking in cultural property — a crime that the UN Security Council has deemed a threat to international peace, and which international law has decried as a barrier to the shared enjoyment of cultural heritage as a human right.

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Jasmine Liu

Jasmine Liu is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she studied anthropology and mathematics at Stanford University.

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