ERBIL — Police in Norway announced on Friday that it had seized nearly 100 tablets and other archaeological objects from ancient Mesopotamia which were stolen from Iraq and smuggled abroad.
“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.
It revealed that the artifacts were found while police was searching the residence of a collector in southeast Norway. They would now be examined to determine their authenticity and establish their provenance if possible.
Prosecutor Maria Bache Dahl told AFP that a restitution procedure had been initiated, but an expert review must first be carried out to determine the origin and authenticity of these objects. It also noted that the Iraqi authorities must document their request.
She added that the collector in question is contesting the Iraqi request, and that he was not a suspect of a crime and had not been arrested.
It was not clear when and how the artifacts were smuggled to Norway.
Iraq, once home to Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, is one of the richest countries for archeological sites where thousands of historic artifacts were found. However, a large number of the cultural and historic heritages were looted during the chaotic times after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and during the Islamic State (IS) attacks in 2014.
IS militants in 2014 seized Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city in north of the country. They immediately began demolishing pre-Islamic treasures while some of them were stolen and smuggled to the western European countries through Turkey.