British families return stolen antiquities to Libya

27th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Two British families have returned Libyan antiquities up to 2,500 years old that were removed during the British protectorate, Libya's committee of antiquities has announced.

The items returned date from the fifth to second centuries BC and include a terracotta Roman lamp representing Bacchus, the god of wine, and the bronze prow of a Greek ship that had previously been exhibited in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.

Antique coins and fragments from Roman-era mosaics were also among the objects returned to Libya after an absence of around 50 years.

The ancient relics, which were put on display in Tripoli's Museum of Libya this week, had been brought to England by British soldiers as souvenirs from the period that Libya was under British control (1943-1951), and subsequently kept by their families.

The secretary general of the committee of antiquities, Salah Agab, welcomed "the courageous decision by the families who voluntarily returned these items to Libya," adding that Tripoli was working to recover hundreds of stolen antiquities.

Libya has had some success at getting back its ancient treasures, notably a Roman statue of the goddess Venus dating to the second century BC, which was taken by Italian troops from the Greek and Roman ruins at Cyrene in the east of the country in 1913 and returned in 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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