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An ancient stone tablet from Assyrian empire unveiled by Iraq after being returned by Italy

Iraq unveiled an ancient stone tablet from the Assyrian empire on Sunday, June 18, after it was returned by Italy as part of Baghdad’s efforts to recover looted antiquities. The recently recovered artifact is a 2,800-year-old stone tablet that will be returned to Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad.

The stone tablet dates back to the Assyrian empire and bears the insignia of Shalmaneser III, the Assyrian king who ruled the region of Nimrod (present-day northern Iraq) from 858 to 823 BC. The text on the tablet is written in cuneiform, the Babylonian alphabet.

According to Iraqi Minister of Culture Ahmed al-Badrani, Shalmaneser III is considered one of the greatest Assyrian kings in the region, and the tablet holds great importance for several reasons. Al-Badrani also explained that while the Sumerian civilization used clay tablets for writing due to their ease, the Assyrian civilization engraved stones, which was a more challenging task.

The details of how Italian authorities agreed to return the stone tablet to Baghdad were not made clear, but Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid received it during his visit to Bologna in the past week. During the ceremony, Rashid expressed gratitude to Italian officials for their efforts and cooperation in bringing back the artifact. The tablet had reportedly arrived in Italy in the 1980s, where it was seized by the police, although the circumstances of its discovery remain unclear, according to al-Badrani.

Rashid stated that Iraq will continue its efforts to recover all archaeological pieces of its history from around the world. Iraq’s antiquities have been targeted by looting, which increased following the chaos that followed the United States-led invasion two decades ago.


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