Wednesday, 10 July 2019

British Museum Hung on to Lots of 'Irisagrig' Cunies

Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets
 (© Trustees of the British Museum)
Eight years after their seizure (somewhere), a large number of looted artefacts from Iraq are returning home from the  UK. The objects were 'stored at the British Museum for safekeeping' (Meilan Solly, 'Hundreds of Artifacts Looted From Iraq and Afghanistan to Be Repatriated' July 9th 2019):
According to a British Museum press release [...] the British Museum will return a set of 154 Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets to the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Seized in 2011, the clay texts date to the mid-3rd century B.C. and describe administrative operations in the lost city of Irisagrig. With the permission of the National Museum of Iraq, a selection of the artifacts will also go on view at the British Museum before returning home.  
It is not immediately clear why so long was needed to identify what these objects are and put this material in boxes and send it back.  Its not as if any of the consigners and buyers have been put on trial in the UK... In the time it took the Brits to get their fingers out, the foreign looters and sellers have got away scot-free.  Oh yeah, let the BM congratulate itself but the rest of us can see how awful it is at sending back to people what is theirs, not the property of the BM.
It might be worth putting that information in the context of these Lambert-examined items ('Barakat Gallery selling cuneiform tablets with no documented history' PACHI Saturday, 29 September 2018) and also another batch of cunies from the same source (perhaps same supplier?) seized in the US a year earlier ('Stolen Sumerian Tablets Come from the Lost City of Irisagrig' PACHI Wednesday, 2 May 2018). Let us hope the delay was not caused by a desire of British Museum affiliated scholars to repeat the PAS 'partnership' with artefact hunters by "Working with the Smugglers: 'Publish the Irisagrig tablets" before they "enter the bowels of the Iraq Museum" where brown-skinned scholars will have access to them, instead of western cunie-fondlers.

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