Return of 156 Cuneiform tablets to Iraq

On 29/8/2019 the Embassy of Iraq in London received from the British Museum (156) archaeological pieces of clay with a cuneiform inscription on them. The tablets range in date from the mid-third millennium BC to the Achaemenid period (sixth-fourth centuries BC). The earliest are early Dynastic administrative tablets and the latest are dated to the reigns of one Darius and one Artaxerxes but most date to the period between 2100 and 1800 BC and belong to the Ur III and Old Babylonian dynasties.

The director of the British Museum Mr. Hartwig Fischer handed over these antiquities to H.E. Ambassador Salih Al-tamimi during an official ceremony held at the British Museum.

During the joint press conference, held later at the Ambassador’s Residence attended by the British officials, the British museum experts and media, H.E. Ambassador Salih expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the British authorities, especially the British Museum, the metropolitan police and the HMRC, who seized the pieces, praising the efforts which have allowed the return of these precious artefacts, which are considered a cultural heritage to us the Iraqi people and the world.

H.E. commended the role of the Ministry of culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in particular, the Legal Department for the substantial follow – up to the issue, in addition to the ministry continued guidance to all Iraqi missions abroad to take more efforts needed to bring these artefacts back home. Reaffirming that cooperation between Iraq and the UK has contributed to this achievement. 

St John Simpson, an expert from the Middle East Section at the British Museum, stressed the importance of the fruitful cooperation with Iraq, which led to the delivery of many artefacts through the Iraqi Embassy, adding that the UK authorities is handing over today (156) archaeological piece belong to various regions in Iraq looted after 2003 and seized on the entry to the UK after investigation by HMRC. Mr. John Highlighted that many of these tablets belong to a single administrative archive.

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