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15223Cornell to return 10,000 ancient tablets to Iraq

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  • Charles E. Jones
    Nov 3 11:19 AM
      Cornell to return 10,000 ancient tablets to Iraq
      Forfeiture of private collection detailing ancient daily life may be largest return of antiquities by a U.S. university.
      By Jason Felch
      6:30 AM PST, November 3, 2013

      Cornell University is preparing to forfeit to Iraq a
      vast collection of ancient cuneiform tablets in what is expected to be
      one of the largest returns of antiquities by an American university.
      The 10,000 inscribed clay blocks date from the 4th millenium BC and
      offer scholars an unmatched record of daily life in ancient Mesopotamia,
      the cradle of civilization.

      New York antiquities collector Jonathan Rosen and his family began
      donating and lending the tablets to Cornell in 2000. Many scholars have
      objected to the arrangement, suspecting the tablets were looted in Iraq
      after the 1991 Gulf War, which unleashed a wave of plundering in the
      archaeologically rich expanse of southern Iraq between the Tigris and
      Euphrates rivers.

      Among the tablets is the private archive of a 21st century BC
      Sumerian princess in the city of Garsana that has made scholars rethink
      the role of women in the ancient kingdom of Ur. The administrative records show Simat-Ishtaran ruled the estate after her husband died...

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