US returns looted sculptures to Libya

American officials have returned looted sculptures to Libya, in a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy. Two of the objects, sculptures dated to the fourth century B.C., are thought to have been looted from the ancient city of Cyrene.

The first, “Veiled Head of a Female,” has been on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1998, while the other, “Bust of a Bearded Man,” has been held by a private collector. The artifacts were recovered through the joint efforts of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations.

The return of the artifacts is part of an ongoing effort to repatriate objects that have been looted from archaeological sites in Libya. In 2017, the U.S. returned a 2,000-year-old marble statue of Aphrodite that had been looted from Libya during the country’s civil war.

“The return of these antiquities is a significant step forward in our continuing efforts to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property.”

John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The return of the artifacts comes as the United States is preparing to open a new embassy in Tripoli. The U.S. closed its embassy in Libya in 2014 amid the country’s civil war.

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