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BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Iraqi National Museum on Sunday celebrated the return of some 700 artifacts that were looted following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and surfaced recently in neighboring Syria.
The items, which include 5,000-year-old stones inscribed with cuneiform and precious gold jewelry from the 19th century, were seized from traffickers by Syrian border guards, museum officials said. They represent only a fraction of the thousands of artifacts dating from the Stone Age to the Islamic Era that were stolen from Iraq's world-class collection during the war.
Syria held a ceremony last week to hand over the seized items to Iraqi officials. Museum officials showed off the items but said they'll remain under lock and key — like the other pieces remaining in the museum's collection — until security in Baghdad improves.
In the anarchic days that followed the U.S. invasion, looters besieged Iraq's national museum, an unassuming brick building in central Baghdad that housed what archaeologists called one of the world's foremost collections of Mesopotamian antiquities. The U.S. military faced intense criticism at the time for not doing enough to protect the priceless pieces.
U.S. officials who investigated the thefts have said that they were likely the work of well-organized criminals rather than random looters. Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos, who led a U.S. military probe into the thefts, said last month that the trafficking of Iraqi antiquities was helping to finance Al Qaida in Iraq and Shiite Muslim militias such as Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Of some 15,000 stolen pieces, about 4,700 have been returned to the museum. Thousands more pieces have been seized by authorities in countries all over the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The cuneiform tablets, which were located on the second floor away from the riot of destruction, for the most part appear to be intact, their record of the world's earliest written history still preserved. Safe, too, are the skulls and bones from Shanidar Cave in the mountains of northern Iraq. These Neandertal remains represent some of the earliest human ancestors found in the Middle East. Museum curators also reported that the lizard-faced terra-cotta figurine and the 4,500-year-old boat model described in the article—both of the Ubaid culture—escaped the pillage. Wright recounted that a providential electricity failure may have saved a collection of cylinder seals about to be looted. The darkness hid what would-be thieves were after.
As examples of what was gone, the officials cited a solid gold harp from the Sumerian era, which began about 3360 B.C. and started to crumble about 2000 B.C. Another item on their list of looted antiquities was a sculptured head of a woman from Uruk, one of the great Sumerian cities, dating to about the same era, and a collection of gold necklaces, bracelets and earrings, also
from the Sumerian dynasties and also at least 4,000 years old.
But an item-by-item inventory of the most valued pieces carried away by the looters hardly seemed to capture the magnitude of what had occurred. More powerful, in its way, was the action of one museum official in hurrying away through the piles of smashed ceramics and torn books and burned-out torches of rags soaked in gasoline that littered the museum's corridors to find the glossy catalog of an exhibition of "silk road civilization" that was held in Japan's ancient capital of Nara in 1988.
Turning to 50 pages of items lent by the Iraqi museum for the exhibition, he said that none of the antiquities pictured remained after the looting. They included ancient stone carvings of bulls and kings and princesses; copper shoes and cuneiform tablets; tapestry fragments and ivory figurines of goddesses and women and Nubian porters; friezes of soldiers and ancient seals and tablets on geometry; and ceramic jars and urns and bowls, all dating back at least 2,000 years, some more than 5,000 years.
"All gone, all gone," he said. "All gone in two days."
The Iron Crown of Lombardy allegedly contains the three nails used to crucify Jesus of Nazareth. The kings of the Lombards had the nails made into a crown, and the crown was traditionally used to crown the Holy Roman Emperor. Napoleon chose this crown for his own coronation as the ruler of the French Empire.
The Iron Crown is so called from a narrow band of iron about one centimeter (three-eighths of an inch) within it, said to be beaten out of one of the nails used at the crucifixion. According to tradition, the nail was first given to Emperor Constantine I by his mother Helena, who discovered the cross of the Crucifixion.
So, what about Iraq?
While some have speculated that the Synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria presents evidence that the Ark was taken East, there is another artifact that seems more likely to have been hidden in modern Iraq; an artifact that would send shockwaves through the west, and through the Arab world in the hands of a muslim leader.
There is one relic that the Crusaders believed made them invincible in battle, and sanctioned any bloody mistakes they made in the conquest of the Outremer, the Holy Land. They called it the "True Cross," containing the only genuine fragment of the cross on which Jesus had been crucified, about a yard high, encased within a golden cross-shaped box and studded with jewels.
Accounts vary, but either shortly before or during the Battle of Hattin in Israel in 1187, the Arab ruler Saladin came into possession of the True Cross, either by theft, betrayal by part of the crusader forces, or in the battle itself.
At one time, Saladin claimed to have burnt the true cross and thrown the ashes to the four winds. But his own court records state that he dragged it (or at least the outer golden case) through the streets of Damascus before his successful siege of Jerusalem. It's a little difficult to believe that an enlightened monarch like Saladin (who had many loyal Christian subjects) would have ultimately destroyed such a valuable bargaining chip for fending off future crusades. . .
Like Saddam Hussein, Saladin was born near Tikrit in modern Iraq. Unlike Hussein, Saladin was actually of Kurdish rather than Arab descent. It has been said that Kurds "wear their Islam lightly"; while officially muslim, there are large Christian, Jewish and especially Yezidi communities among the Kurds.
If Saladin had wanted to remove the True Cross beyond the reach of any future crusading armies, he may have though it was safe forever in his homeland, among his own people in northern Mesopotamia. Certainly the insular, oppressed communities of Kurds would be loathe to admit it if they knew of, or even possessed a relic that might eventually play a key role in the creation of a Kurdish state.
Originally posted by truthseekerpeacemaker
all the these possible reasons might all be true imagine that