Iraq retrieves priceless 7th Century BC artifact from Switzerland, recovered decades after theft

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs proudly announced the repatriation of a historically significant artifact dating back to the Syriac–Assyrian civilization in the 7th century BC. The precious mural, crafted from gypsum rocks, was looted from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad prior to the US forces’ entry into Iraq in 2003.

The long-awaited artifact handover ceremony was held with great honor at the Baghdad Palace, where it was officially received by President Abdul Latif Rashid. The event took place during his visit to the Civil Medieval Museum in Bologna, Italy. He was accompanied by Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities Ahmed Fakak al-Badrani, President of the General Authority for Antiquities and Heritage Majid Hussein, and Director General of the Department of Museums Lama al-Douri.

Highlighting the significance of this recovery, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Ahmed al-Alyawi, raised awareness about the challenges posed by international markets that facilitate the buying and selling of artifacts, including the London market. Such practices put countries like Iraq, who possess invaluable cultural heritage, at risk of losing their historical treasures.

Al-Alyawi emphasized that in order to successfully reclaim such artifacts, thorough documentation and data validation are essential to establish their rightful ownership. He highlighted the importance of engaging in consultations and meetings with relevant parties to ensure the artifacts’ safe return to their rightful home.

The return of this treasured piece marks a significant step towards preserving Iraq’s rich cultural heritage and serves as a reminder of the importance of safeguarding and cherishing the historical legacies that belong to all of humanity.