BEIRUT (AP) — Ancient artifacts on display in a Lebanese museum for many years were handed over to Iraq by Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture on Sunday.
As part of a ceremony held at the National Museum of Beirut, Minister of Culture Mohammed Murtada returned several items, including clay tablets, to the Iraqi ambassador to Lebanon.
In a report published on Saturday, Murtada stated that a Lebanese committee had been investigating the items since 2018.
Artifacts from the ptivate Nabu Musuem in northern Lebanon were believed to have been stored there most recently. This report does not contain any further details about the artifacts’ provenance.
Haider Shyaa Al-Barrak, Iraq’s ambassador to Lebanon, said at the ceremony that 337 artifacts, dating back to different periods in Mesopotamia, were being handed over to the Lebanese museum. This will not be the last transfer, he explained.
It has been ten decades since Saddam Hussein was toppled by an American-led invasion in 2003 that left many Iraqi antiquities looted.
Since the 2003 invasion, which were toppled Saddam Hussein, most of Iraq’s antiquities were looted by looters during the country’s decades of war and instability.
The Iraqi government has gradually been reclaiming the looted antiquities since then. However, archaeological sites throughout the country continue to be neglected due to a lack of government funding.