Iraq Museum has yet to receive thousands of retrieved artifacts

iraqmuseum1.jpgBy Mohammed Dhaher / Azzaman
Thousands of priceless archaeological treasures that went missing in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion have yet to be returned to the Iraq Museum, scientists says.

The scientists, working at the Iraq Museum, said only a fraction of the missing artifacts reported to have been retrieved have made their way to the Museum shelves.

The museum was looted shortly after U.S. troops landed in Baghdad and more than 15,000 pieces were said to have been stolen.

Iraqi police reports say at least 5,000 items have been returned but the scientists say most of these are still missing from the museum records.

The scientists, speaking on condition of anonymity, said conditions at provincial museums, which used to house tens of thousands of archaeologically significant items, which were all looted after the invasion, were still unclear.

For example, the records of the Cultural Museum in the northern city of Mosul, which housed magnificent pieces from the Assyrian capitals of Nineveh, Nimrud, Khorsabad and Ashur, still need to be checked.

Site Museums at the four Assyrian capitals have been looted and none of their possessions returned.

The cities are without proper protection and there are no guards to safeguard thousands of Assyrian mounds dotting the Mosul plateau.