Hundreds of Looted Artifacts from Museums Returned to Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP).-Hundreds of Iraqi artifacts looted from museums and archaeological sites across the country — including a 4,400-year-old statue of an ancient king stolen during the U.S.-led invasion — have been returned to Iraq and were displayed Tuesday. Iraq is home to relics of the world’s most ancient urban civilizations. But its priceless heritage has been plundered during the country’s wars and upheavals, and its precious antiquities sold to collectors abroad. The U.S. military was heavily criticized for not protecting the Iraqi National Museum’s trove of relics and art following Baghdad’s fall in 2003. Thieves ransacked the collection, stealing or destroying priceless artifacts that chronicled some 7,000 years of civilization in Mesopotamia, including the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians and Assyrians. Iraqi and world culture