The US returns 77 looted artefacts to Yemen using same program which returned treasures to Greece

Yemen

The United States has returned 77 looted antiquities to Yemen, US authorities said Tuesday, adding the objects would be housed “temporarily” in a museum in Washington in line with an agreement with the war-torn country’s government.

The announcement was made jointly by the prosecutor’s office, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Smithsonian Institution, which includes nearly 20 museums in the United States.

The pieces are “64 relief carved stone heads, 11 Quran manuscript pages, a bronze inscribed bowl, and a Funerary Stele” from Minaean tribal cultures in northwest Yemen’s highlands dating back to the 1st century BCE, Breon Peace, the district attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

The announcement was made jointly by the prosecutor’s office, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Smithsonian Institution, which includes nearly 20 museums in the United States.

Between 2020 and 2021, at least 700 pieces were returned to 14 countries, including Cambodia, Egypt, Greece, India, Iraq, Italy and Pakistan.

Last year dozens of looted antiquities seized from billionaire hedge fund founder Michael Steinhardt after a yearslong investigation have been returned to the people of Greece, prosecutors in New York.

The district attorney’s office had accused Steinhardt of relying on a “sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers and tomb raiders” to build his collection.

The handover of the ancient objects to Greece occurred after the district attorney's office announced a deal in December under which Steinhardt was to surrender $70 million worth of artifacts acquired illegally from Greece and other countries, including Egypt, Israel, Syria and Turkey.

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