After a century, Iraq recovers 6,000 artifacts from Britain

As the recovery of Iraqi cultural treasures and antiquities from abroad continues, the Iraqi President, Abdul Latif Rashid, decided on Sunday to return thousands of Iraqi artifacts that Britain had borrowed.

A statement issued by the Iraqi Presidency mentioned that a ceremony took place in the Iraqi Embassy in London, attended by President Rashid, to receive 6,000 artifacts that Britain had borrowed from Iraq for study purposes since 1923.

The step took place on the sidelines of Rashid’s visit to the United Kingdom to attend the coronation ceremony of King Charles III, where Rashid decided to bring back the artifacts from London to Baghdad during his return to hand over the pieces to the national museum of Iraq.

The spokesperson of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Ahmed Al-Sahaf, confirmed in a statement that Iraq is receiving 38 boxes containing Iraqi antiquities borrowed by Britain.

Al-Sahaf added that the number of artifacts is approximately 6000 pieces, with four boxes containing replica pieces for study purposes, two paintings, and six boxes of books.

Media Director of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), Hakim Al-Shammari, explained that the recovered antiquities represent an important indication of the success of Iraqi diplomacy in fully recovering its antiquities.

Iraq announced the largest recovery operation for smuggled Iraqi cultural antiquities and treasures, by retrieving about 17,000 valuable artifacts from the United States at the end of July 2021.

The artifacts were brought on the same plane that was carrying the Iraqi Prime Minister at the time, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, coming from Washington.

Iraq is one of the richest countries in the world with antiquities. Archaeological and cultural treasures, due to their abundance, sometimes float on top of archaeological and historical sites, due to environmental and climatic factors such as rain and torrential rains.

Iraq was once the cradle of some of the oldest cities and civilizations in the world, and there are thousands of archaeological sites across the country where the Sumerians, Babylonians, Mitannians, and Assyrians once lived.

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