Friday, August 17, 2018

British Museum to return looted antiquities to Iraq

THE NEW YORK TIMES
By Palko Karasz
Clockwise, from top left: A clay cone with a cuneiform inscription; a white marble amulet in the form of an animal; a fragmentary ceremonial weapon made from gypsum; and a white quartz stamp with a seated sphinx. They will be displayed at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Credit British Museum
LONDON — The looting of ancient artifacts was so widespread in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 that it became symbolic of the chaos that followed the American invasion. More than 15 years later, Britain returned a handful of objects, some up to 5,000 years old, that were seized by the police from an art dealer in London in 2003 and identified by staff from the British Museum only this year. The dealer, who has now gone out of business, had no documents to prove he owned the items legally, the museum said in a statement. They were held unclaimed by the London police for more than a decade, and passed to the British Museum for analysis this year. The artifacts were handed over to Iraqi officials during a ceremony in London on Friday. They will be displayed at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. [More]