Dec 17 2012
By Adel Kadhem
Azzaman, December 17, 2012
The Spanish ambassador to Iraq has handed over 21 archaeological pieces to the Ministry of culture and Antiquities.
The artifacts were among the thousands of items that were looted from the Iraq Museum shortly after the 2003-U.S. invasion.
The ambassador, Jose Turpin, presented the artifacts to the Iraqi culture minister Liwa Sumaism, in a meeting in Baghdad on Sunday.
“The artifacts belong to different periods of ancient Iraqi history. Most of the items are seals of different sizes,” said Hakem al-Shamari, the ministry’s head of information.
The 21 items are “very valuable” but most spectacular and “priceless” artifact has been a bracelet of astounding beauty, he said.
“The ministry has exerted great efforts in order to persuade the Spanish authorities to return the artifacts,” Shamari added.
Shamari did not say how the looted items ended up in the possession of the Spanish authorities. Spain took part in the invasion of Iraq with a contingent of troops under a U.S.-led coalition.
Shamari said Iraq was aware of other important Mesopotamian artifacts that were looted from the Iraqi Museum and other sites to be still in Spanish possession.
He referred to blue glazed bricks that were used in the decoration of Babylon, particularly the Ishtar Gate. Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of fertility.
More than 15,000 artifacts were stolen from the Iraq Museum in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion and Iraq has so far retrieved about 8,000 of them, Shamari added.
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