Great Britain has promised to return more than 5,000 ancient artefacts to Iraq the next few months. The announcement was made the British government the visit of the Iraqi Prime Minister to London earlier this week. The repatriation marks the largest ever return antiquities the UK. Many of the items set to return to Iraq were stolen and smuggled of Iraq over the past century, particularly after the Iraqi wars the beginning of the century. There is a lucrative trade in stolen artefacts. Iraq's ambassador to the UK was appreciative the UK's help. He said: "We extend our gratitude to the British Museum staff their efforts and cooperation us."
Many the artefacts that will soon be their way back to Iraq were unearthed British archaeologists a century ago. One valuable item is a rare Sumerian plaque that dates back to 2400BC. It was illegally smuggled out of Iraq and put for auction in 2019. It was discovered and seized police in London. The plaque will be put on public display the museum before its repatriation. The British Museum said it would continue, "to work our Iraqi colleagues to research these important collections, and the fight against the illicit trade in antiquities". It added: "It is vital that we preserve and protect the world's cultural heritage future generations to appreciate and enjoy."