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Smuggled ancient artifacts returned to Libya

TRIPOLI, LIBYA (AP) – The United States (US) returned a cache of smuggled ancient artefacts to Libya as the oil-rich Mediterranean country struggles to protect its heritage against the backdrop of years of war, turmoil and unrest.

The repatriated items include two sculptures dating to the 4th Century BC from the ancient city of Cyrene.

One, named the “Veiled Head of a Female,” was previously in the hands of a private collector of other illegal artefacts, according to a statement from the US Embassy in Libya.

The other, also a Hellenic bust, had been at the Metropolitan Museum of New York since 1998, the statement said. Both were displayed by Libyan antiquities officials at a reception ceremony in the country’s capital, Tripoli.

A Hellenic sculpture of a head from the ancient Libya city of Cyrene is unloaded after it was returned by the United States. PHOTO: AP