Approximately 100 antiquities dating back to ancient Mesopotamia confiscated in Norway

OSLO — On Friday, the Norwegian police stated that they had confiscated roughly 100 antiquities, including what are believed to be tablets with cuneiform writing, the oldest known writing system in the world, in addition to other artifacts dating back to the ancient Mesopotamian era.

The artifacts were confiscated after searching the home of an antiquities collector in southeastern Norway.

Iraqi authorities requested that the Norwegian Ministry of Culture return the antiquities.

Norwegian Public Prosecutor Maria Bash confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) procedures to securely and safely return the artifacts have begun.

“First, it requires assigning experts to determine the source of these antiquities and confirming that they are original,” she added. She also explained that Iraqi authorities must include the necessary documentation for their requests.

Smuggling antiquities is a source of funds for criminal networks in Iraq, some of which are close to Iran. Antiquities smugglers showed great interest in Iraq due to the succession of ancient civilizations in the territory including the Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians.