BAGHDAD — Iraq has recovered thousands of artifacts, many from the ancient civilizations of the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people, which were illegally smuggled out of the country, announced the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. It is the largest group of recovered Iraqi artifacts to date.
The artifacts were illegally excavated and smuggled out of the country during years of war and political crises.
In a speech during the opening of the Ancient Civilizations Forum in Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein called for the implementation of a mechanism to stop the vandalism, destruction, and smuggling of cultural heritage.
During the event, which was attended by Arab and foreign representatives, as well as a representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Hussein stated that, “Iraq was subjected, in different periods of time, to systematic theft and smuggling of its cultural heritage, which not only represents Iraq, but humanity as a whole.”
He stressed the need for a joint mechanism to combat smuggling of cultural property. The Iraqi parliament has enacted many laws to protect antiquities and heritage buildings.
Hussein added that the world witnessed the sabotage of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, which prompted the Iraqi government to take action to retrieve its cultural heritage stolen from it, adding that the latest efforts have resulted in the return of 18,000 artifacts dating back to different eras through cooperation with Iraq’s partners and friends.