Iraq Proudly Displays 2,800-Year-Old Stone Tablet Returned by Italy

Iraq is often described as the “cradle of civilization” and is working to recover archaeological pieces from abroad.

A 2,800-year-old stone tablet is on display in Iraq after being returned by Italy after nearly four decades, according to reports.

Italian authorities handed over the historical tablet to Iraq's President Abdul Latif Rashid in Bologna, Italy, last week. Now the president has put it on display in Baghdad, France 24 reported.

It is not clear how the tablet was found or how it made its way to Italy where it was seized by police in the 1980s, BBC reported.

"I would like to thank the Italian officials for their efforts and cooperation in bringing back this piece," Rashid said during a ceremony Sunday in Baghdad.

Rashid added that "perhaps [the tablet was found] during archaeological excavations or during work on the Mosul dam," regarding how it could have been discovered.

The Mosul dam is Iraq's biggest and was built in the 1980s, around the time Italy came in possession of the tablet.

The artifact was handed over to the national museum where it is on display in the country’s capital.

The tablet is inscribed with complete cuneiform text, which was a system of writing on clay in an ancient Babylonian alphabet, according to BBC.

Iraq has often described as the “cradle of civilization” and is working to recover archaeological pieces from abroad, Yahoo! reported.

“We want to make the national Iraq Museum one of the best museums in the world, and we will work to do so,” said the Iraqi president Sunday.

Looting of the country’s antiquities intensified following the US-led invasion 20 years ago, Yahoo! reported.

In May New York prosecutor Alvin Bragg announced the return of two ancient sculptures to Iraq which were a limestone Mesopotamian elephant and an alabaster Sumerian bull, which were stolen during the Gulf War and were smuggled into New York in the late 1990s, according to the prosecutor's office.

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