Baghdad museum treasures recovered

时间:2019-02-26 12:01:03166网络整理admin

By Will Knight Thousands of items looted from the National Museum in Baghdad last month have been recovered, US officials announced on Wednesday. But independent archaeological experts say it remains unclear if these items were actually stolen from the museum, or whether they were deliberately hidden from looters by museum staff. On Wednesday officials from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the US Department of Homeland Security, said 40,000 manuscripts and around 700 artefacts had been recovered. The recovered items reportedly include clay pottery dating from 5000 BC and a cornerstone from the Babylon palace of King Nebuchadnezzar, dating from 7000 BC. Christopher Walker, deputy keeper of the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum says it is possible that many of the recovered items have simply now been returned by museum staff who moved them before the looting began. “40,000 manuscripts sounds like an astonishing amount to return and an astonishing amount to take in the first place,” he told New Scientist. Armed looters broke into the museum on 10 and 11 April after US forces invaded Baghdad and took control of the city. Artefacts originating from some of the world’s earliest known civilisations were among thousands of items reported missing once the looting had stopped. The plundering was declared a catastrophe by archaeologists and historians who also criticised the invading forces for failing to protect the museums collection. Officials from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs now say that after accounting for all the items that have been returned, they have documentary evidence of only 38 more items that are missing. This evidence may include a list of around 30 major items sent to the British Museum soon after the looting ended. But the list may only account for the most precious artefacts. Walker points out that the true scale of the looting is not clear as much of the museum is still sealed and has not been properly inspected. And archaeologists say their greatest loss may be the thousands artefacts, including inscribed clay tablets, that were never documented or photographed (New Scientist, 10 May 2003, p 8) The looting was most likely the work of organised criminals, suggested John Ashcroft, head of the US delegation to an international meeting in Lyon, France. The meeting, held on Tuesday, was to discuss ongoing efforts to recover the missing treasures. “From the evidence that has emerged, there is a strong case to be made that the looting and theft of the artefacts was perpetrated by organised criminal groups,