Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – Iraq has seen more war, despair and instability to last lifetimes. What was once a land of inspiration, education, development and invention somehow fell victim to war crimes and political campaigns. “The cradle of civilization” destroyed – reduced to a battleground where local and global superpowers settle their scores at the expense of the lives and souls of Iraqis. Today, many years later, Iraq is left picking up the pieces.
Due to the ruthless and relentless destruction of infrastructure and the undoing of almost every single facet of orderly society during the last few decades, countless invaluable treasures, artifacts and relics were stolen. An extensive effort has been made to return these artifacts back to Iraq.
A handover ceremony of five artifacts recovered by Michael Steinhardt took place yesterday with Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, Farid Yassin representing Iraq. Included in the ceremony was the District Attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg and the Deputy Special Agent of Homeland Security for NYC, Eric Rosenblatt.
According to the Antiquities Trafficking Unit in Manhattan, the recovered treasures are valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Amongst the five artifacts recovered from the Steinhardt collection is an ivory winged human-headed Sphinx plaque (dating back to 701-800 B.C.) valued at $450,000. This piece was looted in the 1990s, as a result of Operation Desert Storm. The second piece recovered is an ornate flower bowl, worth at least $200,000 and dates back to the Neo-Assyrian period (912-612 B.C.). The three remaining artifacts include two cylindrical boxes worth $15,000 each and a set of Mandaean manuscripts valued at $8,500.
Yassin said in a statement: “These pieces are part of the history and heritage of the Iraqi people and therefore belong to Iraq, and they will be displayed in public museums in front of the Iraqi people to increase their appreciation for their history and culture.”
These invaluable treasures are evidence of Iraq’s contribution to the very evolution of humanity. A glimpse in time that reminds us all of the very essence of what Iraq was once to the world; the ultimate torch bearer of enlightenment and progress.