Iraq is recovering 17,000 ancient cuneiform tablets smuggled from the United States, which is the "largest group" that the country has recovered, according to the Ministry of Culture, among a number of other valuable pieces of Mesopotamian civilizations that were looted during years of wars and crises.
These pieces will return to Iraqi territory on Thursday afternoon on the same plane carrying Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi from Washington to Baghdad, after an official visit to Washington in which he met US President Joe Biden.
Most of the recovered tablets document "trade exchanges that took place during the period of the Sumerian civilization," one of the oldest civilizations in Mesopotamia, dating back about 4,500 years, according to a statement by the Ministry of Culture.
The US Department of Justice announced that it would return to Iraq a 3,500-year-old cuneiform tablet documenting part of the "Epic of Gilgamesh", after it was found that it was "stolen cultural property" that was fraudulently introduced to the American art market.
Archaeological sites throughout Iraq have been subjected to great destruction, theft and neglect, during the wars that have passed through the country during the past years, especially in the phase that followed the invasion of the international coalition led by the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.
About 15,000 artifacts were stolen from the Baghdad Museum alone, and 32,000 pieces from 12,000 archaeological sites after the American invasion.
Iraq is working hard to recover thousands of artifacts in coordination between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.