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21 September 2003
Prehistoric Iraqi sculpture found

A 5,000-year-old sculpture looted from Baghdad Museum in April has been recovered. The relic was found by Iraqi police and US soldiers in an orchard on the outskirts of the city after a tip-off. The 20-centimetre high marble sculpture of a female head was stolen after the fall of former leader Saddam Hussein.
     Of the 15,000 pieces stolen since war began, about 13,000 are still missing, including 32 of great value. The Lady of Warka was one of the most valuable exhibits stolen from the museum. Looting, violence and resistance fighting have continued to blight the country since Saddam was removed from power after British and American troops invaded the country in March. Experts and archaeologists worldwide said the US should have protected precious treasures that were stolen from Iraqi museums during the war.
     The curator of the antiquities department, Jabir Ibrahim, said his department received information about a group of people trying to sell the Lady of Warka. The negotiations collapsed for unknown reasons, and the sculpture was then hidden in the orchard, Mr Ibrahim said. "Many people in Iraq and in the world will be delighted with its return," he said. The work is originally from the ancient city of Warka and is due to be returned to the museum. Despite other difficulties in the country, Iraqi culture Minister Mr al-Jazaeri said the recovery of the sculpture, known as the Sumerian Mona Lisa, was a good start to rebuilding the country's heritage.

Source: BBC News (18 September 2003)

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