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The New Arab

Lebanon displays recovered treasures looted during civil war

Lebanon's National Museum has unveiled the five art works [AFP]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2018

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Five ancient sculptures have been returned to Lebanon from the US, after the treasures went missing during the country's civil war.

Five ancient sculptures were unveiled at Lebanon's national museum Friday, after years of investigations led to the treasures being recovered from the US.

Among the items displayed was a life-size 4th century BC Phoenician bull's head, looted during the country's civil war.

The star artefact was stolen in 1981 and has been loaned to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, better known as the Met.

The five artefacts were discovered during excavations in the 1960s and 1970 around the Phoenician site of Eshmun, near the southern port city of Sidon.

Their return to Lebanon have been warmly welcomed in the country.

"We are committed, as much as we can, to repatriating pieces stolen during the war," Lebanese Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury said.

A ceremony was held at the National Museum of Beirut to welcome back the sculptures.

The five statues were stolen from a storeroom in Byblos and later surfaced "on the international antiquity market", AFP reported.

The bull's head had been exhibited at the Met and was spotted as part of a drive by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

He tracked down the sculptures and arranged for their repatriation back to Lebanon.

Among the other items unveiled Friday was a 6th century BC marble statue that had ended up in the same private collection as the bull's head.

Also returned was a 4th century BC statue that had been in the possession of a private New York collector, a 5th century BC marble torso that was kept in Germany and a statue seized in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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