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UK Customs Officials Recover Babylonian Artifact

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Guardian, an ancient inscribed stone described on a customs declaration as a “carved stone for home decoration” was seized at Heathrow Airport by a Border Force officer. A call to the British Museum revealed the nearly 12-inch-tall object was actually a kudurru, or a document created at the command of a Babylonian king. The two columns of text on this stone refer to a military campaign during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I, which spanned from about 1126 to 1103 B.C. “It’s a historical document, a primary document for a little-known episode of Mesopotamian history, showing the relationship—not always friendly—between neighbors,” explained St. John Simpson, a senior curator at the British Museum. He thinks the stone may have been placed in a temple in the city of Nippur, which is mentioned in the text along with the god Enlil and the goddess Gula. The artifact will be handed over to officials at Iraq’s embassy in London later this month. To read about another instance in which looted antiquities were identified in London, go to “The Case of the Stolen Sumerian Antiquities.”

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