PHOTOS:Germany Returns Stolen Artifacts

By Jackie Bargas
Germany returned around 45 relics to Iraq Monday, including a stone from the Assyrian palace and head of a Sumerian battle axe.
An employee checks recovered artefacts at the Iraqi Ministry of foreign Affairs headquarters in Baghdad January 30, 2012. A 6,500-year-old Sumerian gold jar, the head of a Sumerian battle axe and a stone from an Assyrian palace were among 45 relics returned to Iraq by Germany on Monday. The items were among thousands stolen from Iraq’s museums and archaeological sites in the mayhem that followed the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003. REUTERS/Saad Shalas
The returned items were a few of those stolen from museums and archeological sites in Iraq after Saddam Hussein was ousted through the help of the U.S. in 2003.

Other items such as clay tablets with cuneiform script, the bronze axe head, gold jar and metal amulet were confiscated from public auctions and turned over to the Iraqi authorities.

Such operation was made possible by the German law indicating that any artifacts stolen from Iraq since 1990 must be returned.

The German government obtained rights to confiscate artifacts according to the deputy head of the German diplomatic mission in Iraq, Alexander Schonfelder.
The chaos that happened in 2003 started the loss of about 15,000 artifacts from the National Museum of Iraq. Thousands others are taken from archeological sites. The general director of the museum, Amira Eidan said the return of some of the items has reduced the missing pieces to 10,000.

The ancient Greeks called Iraq “Mesopotamia,” which means a land between two rivers. Due to its Euphrates and Tigris, the country was considered the crib of civilization by archeologists. Iraq’s agriculture and codified law started the human development.

In today’s generation, the country’s government has gradually reconstructed Iraq’s lost history. The authorities announced last September the upturn of more than 500 museum pieces together with the headless statue of a Sumerian king. Two weeks after, another 600 items were discovered by the National Museum. Turned over pieces are stored in the Prime Minister’s office.

The head of Iraq’s artifact retrieval department, Abbas al-Quraishi, claimed they will continue the search in Britain, U.S. and Canada.