Iraq thwarts smuggling of antiquities, including a rare copy of the Torah
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi anti-corruption commission announced on Saturday that it had seized antiquities while smugglers were attempting to transport them out of Iraq, including an extremely rare copy of the Torah, the holy Hebrew scriptures.
In a statement, the Commission on Integrity in the Iraqi province of Dhi Qar said its investigation office first received information of the smuggling effort at the end of October.
Preliminary investigations indicated that the smugglers, who were arrested according to a court order, had employed an expert in the search for antiquities who excavated an archeological site in order to find some of the artifacts.
He pointed out that the antiquities recovered include an ancient statue, stone seals, and the Torah.
In July, British Museum announced it would return looted artifacts to their countries of origin — Iraq and Afghanistan — after they were illegally exported to the UK.
The 154 Mesopotamian texts written on clay in cuneiform scripts were confiscated in the UK in Feb. 2011. Almost all of the items date back to 1800 – 2100 BC and belong to the Ur II and Old Babylonian dynasties.