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Report: Yemen's stolen artefacts auctioned off in US, other countries

ancient Yemeni artefacts [YemenEmbassy_DC/Twitter]
ancient Yemeni artefacts [YemenEmbassy_DC/Twitter]

Over 4,000 of Yemen's historical artefacts have been looted and smuggled out of the country where they have been auctioned off in six countries, including the US a recent report has revealed.

On Thursday, the Sanaa-based Al-Hudhud Center for Archaeological Studies published a report alleging that 4,265 of Yemen's artefacts had been stolen and sold in several countries, namely the US, Britain France, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands.

The centre said that 2,167 of the stolen items were sold at auctions in the US, while 501 were auctioned in Israel. According to the report, the centre was able to identify 2,523 artefacts that had been sold so far, estimated to be worth a total of $12 million. Among the items, was a manuscript dating back to the fifteenth century, valued at $800,000.

Last month an independent Yemeni archaeologist, Abdullah Mohsen, claimed on social media that the London-based TimeLine Auctions intends to sell more than 6,000 ancient artefacts from around the world, including alleged looted ones from Yemen's museums and heritage sites. The researcher added that dealers from Britain, France, Japan and Israel were involved in the planned online auction, which is scheduled for 29 November to 3 December.

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Mohsen also claimed that the auction company omitted attributing the stolen artefacts to Yemen, whereas other countries were labelled. "As usual, this auction company writes the name of the country to which the gold monuments belong such as Persia, Iraq, and Egypt — except Yemen," Mohsen wrote.

"[TimeLine] often classifies these under the general name 'Western Asiatic Gold,' and Yemen is one of the most prominent countries in this geographical range," he added.

In August it was reported that the Saudi-based, internationally-recognised Yemeni government has been complicit in smuggling antiquities outside the country, which had been destined for western markets via Saudi Arabia. Last year, the Al-Hudhud Center claimed that the Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging a war against Yemen since March 2015, had destroyed about 9,812 historical sites including three recognised as UNESCO heritage sites.

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