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For this week’s stolen art report, we are featuring board games from Ur, in what is now Iraq. The National Stolen Art File has some neat photos of a missing game board plate inlaid with shell depicting ritual scenes and animals and another shell inlay piece that looks like a d6 (six-sided dice, or all non-gamers).

Aside from the pictures and the stats, there is no other information about the stolen games. Our best guess is they were swiped in 2003 when the Iraq’s national museum was ransacked during the war, but stolen Iraqi artifacts have been known to go back further. In fact, in 2001, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized 300 Cuneiform clay tablets headed for a New Jersey gallery and determined they were from Iraq and not Dubai, as stated on their customs documents. They tablets at the U.S. Customs House at the World Trade Center complex and, after the Sept. 11 attacks, recovered from the ruins, according to ICE officials. The tablets were returned to Iraq in 2008.

Included in the 2008 repatriation was a copper Sumerian foundation peg figurine (traditionally buried under temples to establish the patronage of the ruler who built it) from the Third Century BC that had been stolen from the Iraqi museum during the first Gulf War and auctioned off in New York.

As for the missing games, here’s what we know:

Vital Stats

Board Game Description: Stolen Category: Board Games Maker: Ur, Iraq Materials: shell Additional Information: game board game; animals. Plate inlaid with shell depicting ritual scenes

Dice Game Description: Stolen Category: Board Games Maker: Ur, Iraq Materials: shell Additional Information: game board game; dice

For more information and to report recovered objects in the NSAF, contact:

National Stolen Art File Art Theft Program, Room 3247 Federal Bureau of Investigation 935 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20535

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