Norway seizes 100 Iraqi archaeological objects

AFP - [email protected] • 3 Sep, 2021 Updated Fri 3 Sep 2021 14:05 CEST
Norway seizes 100 Iraqi archaeological objects
An artifact recovered from excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the City of David national park is on display, as archaeologists unveiled a missing section of the city wall of Jerusalem that the Babylonians encountered on the eve of its destruction in 586 BC, in Jerusalem on July 14, 2021. - According to the researchers, this find connects additional sections of the wall, which were uncovered decades ago, and proves, that the eastern slope of the City of David was protected by a single impressive fortification line. Near the wall, a number of finds were uncovered such as a Babylonian stamp seal, a bulla (stamp seal impression) bearing a personal name in ancient Hebrew script as well as vessels that were in use on the eve of the destruction. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Norwegian police said Friday they have seized nearly 100 Mesopotamian archaeological artefacts, claimed by Iraq, from a collector.


"The seizure involves what are presumed to be cuneiform tablets and other archaeological objects from Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq considered important to the world's historical cultural heritage," the police said in a statement.

The objects were seized during a search of a collector's house in southeast Norway.

They are the subject of a restitution request from Iraqi authorities to the Norwegian Ministry of Culture.


"A restitution procedure has been initiated, but an expert review must first be carried out to determine the origin and authenticity of these objects and the Iraqi authorities must document their request," prosecutor Maria Bache Dahl told AFP.

The collector in question is contesting the Iraqi request, she said, adding that he was not a suspect of a crime and had not been arrested.

Iraq, once home to Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, is a prime location for smugglers of ancient artefacts.

According to Iraqi officials, trafficking feeds criminal networks in the country where armed groups have gained considerable influence.

When it occupied large swathes of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State group demolished dozens of pre-Islamic treasures with bulldozers, pickaxes and explosives, but also used smuggling to finance their operations.


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