One Thrift Shopper Buys a 2,000-Year-Old Mayan Vase for Just $3.99

It's been on display in her home since 2019.

Lauren Wellbank - Author

Jun. 20 2024, Published 3:41 p.m. ET

Closeup of the Mayan Vase and other artifacts
Source: WUSA9/YouTube

A DC woman received the surprise of a lifetime when she discovered that the antique vase she had picked up while thrifting was something way older than she had originally suspected. The vase Anna Lee Dozier purchased during a 2019 thrift store excursion ended up being older than she was ... by a few thousand years.

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Read on to learn how she discovered the secret about her new home decor find and what she is going to do about it so that it ends up in the right hands again.

2A Thrift Superstore signage
Source: WUSA9/YouTube
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The thrift store shopper found the ancient vase in 2019.

Dozier spoke with The Independent about her find, revealing how she'd stumbled across it during a trip to 2A Thrift Superstore five years ago. She explained how she initially thought it was a handmade replica of a real piece and had picked it up off a clearance rack because she was interested in the design. It was obviously priced to move at just $3.99, so she took it home, where it remained on display until a 2024 trip to Mexico changed everything.

While she was visiting the country in January, she stopped in Mexico's Museum of Anthropology and noticed a few pieces that looked suspiciously like the one she had at home. While she still doubted she was holding onto anything of real value, Dozier felt compelled to ask museum staff what to do if she was sitting on the real deal at home. They advised her to contact the U.S. Embassy upon her return to the States.

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Still unconvinced that she had found the real deal, Dozier says she asked around for a bit first, reaching out to a few professors who specialized in Mayan and Mexican history. After her questions remained unanswered, she told The Independent that she finally decided to take the museum's advice and reach out to the embassy, which immediately began asking to see photos of the vase in question.

It took around a month of back and forth before the authenticity of the vase was confirmed and Dozier found out that her $3.99 buy was actually a ceremonial urn from between the years 200 and 800.

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What will happen to the Mayan urn found in the thrift store?

As a human rights advocate working specifically on behalf of the Indigenous communities in Mexico, Dozier immediately knew what she needed to do, and she contacted the Cultural Institute of Mexico. From there, the institute held a ceremony in honor of the return of the vase. The vase will then travel to Mexico's Museum of Anthropology to be reviewed and analyzed.

It's amusing that the vase was found in this manner, but not every lost or stolen artifact gets such a happy ending. Hopefully the communities that will find the return of this vase the most significant are the ones that ultimately end up in possession of it by the time this story is over.

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