Lost Treasures From Iraq

Legal Information

A combination of existing United States statutes are relevant to the importation, possession, dealing and transfer of objects of cultural heritage from Iraq. Pursuant to the United States' implementation of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, the import into the United States of any stolen objects that had been documented as part of the inventory of a museum or other public institution is prohibited.

Iraq has vested ownership of all previously unexcavated archaeological objects in its national government since 1936. Therefore any such objects excavated after 1936 and subsequently removed from Iraq without permission of the government are stolen property.

The import of stolen property is prohibited under the Customs statute when there is a violation of the National Stolen Property Act or other relevant statutes. Finally, anyone who knowingly possesses, deals in or transfers stolen objects or who intends to do so is violating the National Stolen Property Act and is subject to criminal prosecution.

This web site attempts to present images of as many objects known to have been in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad or in one of Iraq's provincial museums as possible. However, the absence of any particular object from this database does not mean that it may not be a stolen object.


revised: May 27, 2003
created: May 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Oriental Institute, University of Chicago