June 21, 2003
Iraq Museum Regains A Famed TreasurePhotograph of the Warka Vase accompanying the cheery Washington Post story:
This is how it happens in Iraq today. A shiny red Toyota, or maybe it’s a Nissan, pulls up in front of the National Museum, along a busy roundabout on the Tigris River. Three men in their twenties step out cradling an object wrapped in a blanket and, eschewing the usual social niceties, hand it to museum officials.
The officials say thank you. The men drive away.
Thus was recovered one of the greatest treasures of Mesopotamian antiquity, a three-foot-high, 5,000-year-old ritual vase carved with intricate images of men, a goddess and nature. It is the Warka vase, a priceless artifact gone missing during the looting of the Baghdad museum after the fall of the city in April.
Retrieved on Thursday, no questions asked.
“I am delighted it has been returned,” Pietro Cordone, senior adviser on culture for the U.S. civil authority, told the Associated Press. He happened to be there when the “Ali Babas,” as thieves here are called, showed up. He was able to thank them before they sped off in the midday heat. “It is reason for people all around the world to celebrate,” he said.
Actual condition of the returned Warka Vase:
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Friday, April 11, 2003:
Let me say one other thing. The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over, and over, and over, and it’s the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, “My goodness, were there that many vases?” (Laughter.) “Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?(Via Body and Soul.) [09:49 PM]