Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
ARCHAEOLOGICAL & CULTURAL NEWS OF IRAN & THE IRANIAN WORLD
Assists in Recovery of Stolen Parthian Sculpture from Baghdad Museum
(CAIS) -- Close co-operation between Lebanese police and Interpol, as well
as with Italian art experts, has led to the recovery of an ancient sculpture of
an Parthian local king taken from the national museum in Baghdad.
Police recently seized the limestone head of King Sanatruq I of Hatra from the
home of a well-known Lebanese decorator. After its discovery at an
archaeological site in Hatra, it was exhibited in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad
until its disappearance. The exact circumstances of the theft have not been
The head, which stands 47cm and dates from the 2nd century BCE, was visible in
an al Jazeera TV report about the decorator broadcast in June 2006.
leading Italian archaeologist from the University of Turin who participated in
the archaeological expedition in Hatra thought he recognised the sculpture from
the report and informed Interpol.
Interpol obtained a copy of the broadcast, from which it was able to extract an
image capture of the sculpture. This was sent to the archaeologist for
examination, who expressed no doubt of the sculpture's origins, providing
documentation which contained the inventory number assigned to the statue by the
This information was sent to Interpol's National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in
Beirut and Baghdad on 10 April 2007 to initiate an investigation and protect the
sculpture; it was seized two weeks later. The investigation is still ongoing.
The recovery would not have been possible without the close contacts between the
Interpol General Secretariat and art experts, and without the commitment and
efficiency of the police professionals working in Interpol's NCBs.
It is the second statue of an ancient Iranian vassal king that has been
recovered with Interpol's assistance.
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British Institute of Persian Studies