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BBC's Barbara Plett in Amman
"Dusty showcases have been cleaned and filled with treasures"
 real 28k

Saturday, 29 April, 2000, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Baghdad treasure trove reopens to public
Baghdad museum
The museum's re-opening has political overtones
Iraq's treasure-laden national museum has reopened to the public for the first time since the Gulf War.

The move coincides with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's 63rd birthday celebrations.



Contrast our civilisation with the uncivilised aggression against our people

Culture Minister Humam Abdul- Khaleq Abdul-Ghafur
The museum was closed during the 1990-91 Gulf War crisis over Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and fears of theft or destruction has kept it shut for a decade.

It houses over 10,000 artefacts, some of them world renown, and star attractions include a Neanderthal skeleton, pottery from the earliest agricultural villages, and remains from the royal tomb of the ancient kingdom of Ur.

The lower part of a 2300 BC bronze statue, a royal Assyrian room and a number of statues of Hercules are also on view.

Aggression

Information and Culture Minister Humam Abdul- Khaleq Abdul-Ghafur told guests at a ceremony in Baghdad: "You can contrast our civilisation with the uncivilised aggression against our people."


Baghdad visitor
One of the first visitors to the re-opened museum
He was referring to a decade of United Nations sanctions and British and US air raids on northern and southern Iraq.

Iraq, and especially the northern province of Kurdistan, contain over 10,000 archeological sites, most of which have still not yet been uncovered, according to official statistics.

Following the Gulf War, Baghdad accused US soldiers of having stolen treasures from Ur, 380km (235 miles) south of Baghdad, and location of ruins dating from the Sumerian era, 2,500 B.C.

Iraq has also repeatedly accused foreigners of financing the theft of archeological pieces and pointed an accusing finger at diplomats and UN employees.

Before the embargo imposed on Iraq in August 1990 after its invasion of Kuwait, Iraq used to welcome each year numerous foreign archeological expeditions.

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See also:

28 Apr 00 | Middle East
Saddam's birthday celebrations
14 Feb 00 | Middle East
'Lost generation' faces bleak future
14 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iraq seeks oil industry spare parts
02 Nov 99 | Middle East
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03 Nov 99 | Middle East
Iraq dismisses UN sanctions solution
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