Lebanon to return smuggled artifacts to Iraq
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture announced on Saturday that it would return 337 artifacts from its Nabu Museum that were previously smuggled from Iraq, Iraqi state media reported.
Hundreds of pieces of cuneiform will soon be handed over to the Iraqi authorities, Mohammad Mortada, the Lebanese culture minister, told the Iraqi News Agency on Saturday.
A specialized committee consisting of Iraqis, Lebanese, and Syrians has been formed to accurately determine the identities of the various valuable artifacts, according to Iraqi authorities.
The cultural items are presently in the Nabu Museum in Lebanon, which signed a deal with the Iraqi government for the handover, according to Mortada.
The Lebanese official did not elaborate on which date the artifacts will be handed over but said that his country’s cultural officials would be present along with the Iraqi delegation.
Decades of bloody conflicts and looting have extensively damaged Iraq’s cultural heritage, with valuable historical artifacts often illegally traded.
In early December 2021, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced the return of a 3,500-year-old clay tablet, on which portion of the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh was engraved. The US handed back the artifact, which was previously looted and smuggled following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Nearly 18,000 pieces of artifacts have been returned to Iraq, including from the UK, US, and a number of European countries, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein announced in 2021.