Switzerland returns two ancient cuneiform tablets to Iraq
November 24, 2015
Swiss officials have handed over to the Iraqi Embassy in Bern two cuneiform tablets from around the 3rd to the 1st millenium BC. The restitution of the tablets was made in the presence of the Iraqi ambassador to Switzerland, Majid Al-Lachmawi, and the director of the Federal Office of Culture, Isabelle Chassot.
One of the two clay tablets is 4.5cm high and dates from around 3,000 BC. The other measures 3.2 cm and originates from the Irin/Eridu region in southern Iraq. It dates from 1,900-1,700 BC.
According to the Federal Office of Culture, the two objects were not correctly recorded as “cultural goods” when imported into Switzerland. A false registration constitutes a violation of the federal law on the transfer of international cultural goods, which has been in effect since June 1, 2005. As a result, the Zurich cantonal prosecutor opened legal proceedings against the people who imported the objects, which were also confiscated.
The return of the artefacts to their country of origin is part of Swiss efforts to fight illegal trafficking in cultural goods, the office said in a statement.