Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – On Sunday, Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture returned 337 Iraqi ancient artifacts that have been on display for years in museums across Lebanon.
A ceremony was held at the National Museum of Beirut, where the artifacts were handed over by Minister of Culture Mohammed Murtada to Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, Haider Shyaa Al-Barrak.
The artifacts were most recently in the private Nabu Museum, northern Lebanon.
300 of the stolen pieces, mostly clay tablets, can be traced back to the early Dynastic period between 2900BC – 2350BC and the Akkadian period between 2350BC – 2150BC. The remaining pieces date back to Old Babylonian period between 2003BC and 1595BC.
Al-Barrak said: “We are celebrating the handing over of 337 artifacts that are of different eras of civilizations in Mesopotamia. This will not be the last handover.”
Decades of war, instability and lack of security have resulted in astronomical cases of looting in the country. Iraq is working diligently to recover and return these stolen antiquities back.
Just last month, US authorities returned five ancient artifacts that were stolen, valued more than $650,000, to the Iraqi embassy in the United States. More than 17,000 ancient artifacts were returned last year by the US to Iraq, dating as far back as 4,000 years. Amongst these treasures was the antique clay tablet; a portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh – the oldest known surviving piece of literature and the second oldest religious text.
At a ceremony in Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said: “This day, represents a victory in the face of the desperate attempts of those who try to steal our great history and our ancient civilization.”