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Grabbing the bull by its horns: Lebanon receives looted ancient statues

A marble bull's head made 2,400 years ago for a Phoenician temple [Archaeology_IN/Twitter]

A marble bull’s head made 2,400 years ago for a Phoenician temple and looted during Lebanon’s civil war arrived in Beirut today after American officials found it in the United States and sent it home.

The object – along with two partial statues that the United States is also returning – will be displayed in the National Museum in Beirut early next month, Lebanon’s Culture Ministry said in a statement.

They were stolen from a storehouse in Byblos in 1981 at the height of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, as Christian and Muslim militias battled each other across much of the country.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York said last month it was returning the three statues to Lebanon and was forming an antiquities trafficking unit to stop the trade in looted artefacts.

The three pieces, all excavated during the 1960s and 1970s from the temple of Eshmoun in the port of Sidon and dating from between the fourth and sixth centuries BC, had been sold to private collectors in the United States.

The bull’s head was identified by a curator while on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as being among the antiquities stolen in Lebanon.

Read: US to provide $120m in military aid to Lebanon

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