Britain Returns Babylonian Stone Tablet to Iraq

Britain Returns Babylonian Stone Tablet to Iraq

A British Museum has given back a 3,000-year-old Babylonian carved stone tablet to Iraq, after it had been stolen about 15 years ago during the war that rattled the country for several years.

The piece was initially detected at London’s Heathrow airport in 2012 after being presented with fake documents, and then transferred to the museum where experts examined it to determine its origin.

"It is a very important piece of Iraq's cultural heritage,” the museum head, Hartwig Fischer, said.

"They seized this item when they saw it at a British port and several years later, after a lot of legal work, we are able to effect this transfer," Britain's Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis, said.

The kudurru is a ceremonial stone tablet recording the legal gifting of land by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar I to one of his subjects in return for distinguished service, according to curator Jonathan Taylor.

On one side are depictions of the great Babylonian gods Enlil and Marduk, and on the other, legal text written in cuneiform, the Babylonian alphabet.