Thursday, 23 September 2010
Antiquities uncovered in boxes in a storage room in Nouri Al-Maliki's office
Iraq's National Museum finally took possession this month of over 600 antiquities, some dating back to the third millennium BCE, which had been returned to Baghdad by the US in early 2009 but which had subsequently gone missing. The artefacts, which included jewellery, bronze figurines and clay tablets from various eras and which were seized by US customs officials, turned up in boxes in a storage room for kitchen equipment in office.
According to antiquities minister Qahtan Al- Jubouri, the disappearance of the returned antiquities, which had been smuggled out of Iraq since the toppling of the former regime, was the result of “inappropriate handover procedures”.
It seems that when the US army handed them over to Al-Maliki's office there was no representative for antiquities or heritage present and the objects were put away in the unlabelled boxes they were returned in and simply forgotten about. An inquiry triggered by Al-Maliki's office led to the objects being unearthed.
Whilst the find is great news for Iraq's heritage around half of the 32,000 pieces stolen from archaeological sites and from the National Museum are still unaccounted for.
For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.
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