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Photo courtesy FBI

In a private ceremony at the Embassy of Iraq in Washington, D.C., the FBI repatriated four cylinder seals to the Iraqi government in October.

The stone seals are believed to date to as early as 2300 B.C. In ancient times, when rolled across wax or soft clay that later hardened, the seals formed an imprint or “signature” that marked a piece of property and uniquely identified its owner.

This is not the first time the FBI has played a role in the repatriation of Iraqi antiquities. In 2005, the Bureau returned eight stone seals that were believed to have been stolen. In 2011, terracotta plaques and other artifacts seized during a 2006 investigation were returned to the government of Iraq. It was the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2003, where many of these items once resided, that led to the formation of the FBI’s Art Crime Team in 2004.

The seals returned on Oct. 25 are small enough to fit in a person’s palm. The Bureau’s International Operations Division and Criminal Investigative Division delivered the seals to Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily.

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Photo courtesy FBI

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