Jun 19 2012
By Shaymaa Adel
Azzaman, June 19, 2012
Iraq’s National Museum has collected 27,000 antiquities in the years since the 2003-U.S. invasion which led to the looting of the museum’s possession and large-scale smuggling of archaeological finds.
According to the Antiquities Department spokesman Ali Al-Hashemi, the pieces would fill the shelves of one special museum, however, he added, the artifacts still missing were even greater than those returned.
The collection is of three categories, he said. The first includes items that were stolen from the museum in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion; the second are numismatics; and the third comprises the artifacts that were dug up illegally from ancient mounds across the country.
The department says tens of thousands of artifacts have been recovered from unprotected archaeological mounds in Iraq and smuggled abroad.
Hashemi said the artifacts the museum has received belong to different historical periods of Iraq’s heritage, one of the oldest in the world.
Some of the returned pieces are in need of repair and preservation as the department received them in bad shape, he said.
“We are now concentrating our efforts to open one of the main halls of the national museum to exhibit the artifacts to the public,” Hashemi said.
The museum’s main hall is one of the largest of its kind in the world and boasts some of the most fascinating Mesopotamian finds like winged bulls, ivories and Sumerian statues.
The museum has been closed to the public since the U.S. invasion, but Hashemi said the authorities have promised to guard the museum and its priceless possession once it is reopen.
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