Dutch give Iraq old tablet back





The Netherlands will on Thursday return to Iraq a 4 000-year-old clay tablet discovered when it was put on sale on an online auction site, the government in The Hague said.

"The police found the tablet last December on the Marktplaats auction site," the culture ministry said in a statement. "The owner voluntarily gave it up after being informed that it was illegal to trade in Iraqi cultural artefacts."

The tablet, 7cm by 4.5cm, has been dated to 2040 BC, and comes from the ancient city of Ur. It is inscribed with an administrative list with numbers, names and payments for services rendered.

The tablet would be presented to Iraqi ambassador Siamand Banaa at a ceremony in Leiden, a ministry spokesperson said.

It would then be transferred to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden for a special exhibition with another 69 archaeological objects from Iraq.

These objects, including terracotta sculptures and clay tiles with inscriptions in cuneiform writing, had all been recovered by Dutch customs authorities from the illegal art circuit.



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