In a small room inside Kabul museum, staff are slowly unwrapping hundreds of stolen pieces of Afghanistan’s past.
Worth a fortune on the black market, the smugglers’ hoard was spotted and seized by customs officers at Heathrow airport in London.
Now it has been returned to Afghanistan.
More than 1,500 artefacts were recovered in an 11-day operation. Many are priceless objects of Islamic art looted in illegal excavations.
They include a magnificent tall bronze bird. Nine-hundred years ago, its owner would have burned incense in the drawer that slots into its puffed chest………………………..
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….The recovered items are a huge boost to the museum’s depleted collection – and to morale. But they’re just a fraction of what Afghanistan has already lost and of what is still slipping across its borders.
The 1,500 items seized at Heathrow were identified and catalogued by staff from the British Museum. They were eventually returned to Kabul with the help of the Red Cross and should go on public display here in the next few weeks.