AMMAN (AFP) — Jordan on Sunday returned to Iraq some 2,466 artefacts, including gold coins, jewellery and Islamic and ancient manuscripts, that were stolen after the 2003 US-led invasion of its neighbour.
"Now that stability is restored in Iraq, Jordan decided to return these antiquities to where they belong, to Iraq, the cradle of civilisation," Jordanian Tourism Minister Maha Khatib told a news conference.
She handed over the artefacts to her counterpart Mohammed Abbas al-Oraibi during a ceremony at Jordan's department of antiquities in Amman.
"The objects have been seized by Jordanian customs officials in 22 smuggling attempts. All those involved have been arrested," Khatib said.
Around 32,000 artefacts were looted from 12,000 archaeological sites around Iraq during the chaos that followed the invasion along with 15,000 items stolen from the National Museum in Baghdad.
According to Oraibi, only 8,500 artefacts have been recovered, despite the introduction of a reward system offering up to 3,000 dollars to those handing in stolen items.
"There are stolen items in Italy, Turkey, France, Iran, Spain and Gulf countries. Iraq has contacted these countries to get the artefacts back," the minister said.
Some of the first signs of complex urban life appeared within the borders of today's Iraq around 3000 BC.
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