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3 Sep, 2021 12:01

Almost 100 missing artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, including cuneiform tablets, seized from Norwegian private collection

Almost 100 missing artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, including cuneiform tablets, seized from Norwegian private collection

Norwegian police have said they have found a trove of ancient artifacts, including what are believed to be cuneiform tablets, in a private collection. Nobody has been charged, although some have been interviewed.

On Friday, authorities in Norway said they had seized a number of ancient artifacts from a private collection. They are believed to have originated in ancient Mesopotamia and were reported missing by Iraqi authorities.

“In total, almost 100 objects of significance to the global cultural heritage have been seized,” the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) said in a statement.

“They are now being examined by experts to determine their authenticity and, if possible, establish their provenance,” it added.

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The authorities, who found the items with the assistance of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, did not give any information about how the artifacts, which had been reported missing in Iraq, made their way to the collection in northern Europe. It is understood, however, that the objects had been smuggled out of Iraq.

While the items were part of a private collection, no criminal charges have been pressed, although several witnesses were questioned. Acting Public Prosecutor Maria Bache Dahl said the police were tasked purely with locating the objects.

The items were found during a search in southeastern Norway; no further information was provided.Ancient Mesopotamia, literally meaning between rivers (the Tigris and Euphrates) was an area that largely falls in modern-day Iraq. Often referred to as the “cradle of civilization,” it was one of the first places where writing occurred, governments were formed and large cities, including Ur and Uruk, first developed.

Cuneiform, believed to be the language on the recovered tablets, was originally developed to write the Sumerian language.

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