<p><strong>This chrome-plated Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle with Saddam Hussein's image is one of 540 stolen <a id="i2r0" title="Iraqi" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/iraq-guide/?source=A-to-Z">Iraqi</a> artifacts recently returned to the country.</strong></p> <p><strong>The repatriated items—displayed at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital city of Baghdad on Tuesday—include priceless historic treasures, such as gold earrings made for an Assyrian queen and a 4,000-year-old headless statue.</strong></p> <p>More than 30,000 looted Iraqi antiquities and artworks have been confiscated inside and outside the country since 2003, according to the <em>New York Times.</em> But the total number of items that have been stolen from Iraq is anyone's guess, archaeologist <a id="jzqp" title="Brian Rose" href="http://www.classics.upenn.edu/faculty/rose.html">Brian Rose</a> told National Geographic News.</p> <p>"We'll never be able to determine how many pieces have been stolen," said Rose, of the University of Pennsylvania, "because many of the pieces were taken clandestinely from archaeological sites."</p> <p>(Related: <a id="g130" title="&quot;Iraq War Threatens Ancient Treasures.&quot;" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/03/0319_030319_iraqiantiquities.html">"Iraq War Threatens Ancient Treasures"</a> [2003].)</p> <p><em>—Ker Than</em></p>

Saddam in the Line of Fire

This chrome-plated Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle with Saddam Hussein's image is one of 540 stolen Iraqi artifacts recently returned to the country.

The repatriated items—displayed at the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital city of Baghdad on Tuesday—include priceless historic treasures, such as gold earrings made for an Assyrian queen and a 4,000-year-old headless statue.

More than 30,000 looted Iraqi antiquities and artworks have been confiscated inside and outside the country since 2003, according to the New York Times. But the total number of items that have been stolen from Iraq is anyone's guess, archaeologist Brian Rose told National Geographic News.

"We'll never be able to determine how many pieces have been stolen," said Rose, of the University of Pennsylvania, "because many of the pieces were taken clandestinely from archaeological sites."

(Related: "Iraq War Threatens Ancient Treasures" [2003].)

—Ker Than

Photograph by Karim Kadim, AP

Photos: Saddam AK-47, Ancient Artifacts Return to Iraq

An AK-47 with Saddam Hussein's portrait and ancient artifacts are among the hundreds of returned Iraqi artifacts displayed this week in Baghdad.

Read This Next

Clothing from 1600s shipwreck shows how the 1 percent lived
A Q&A with Nikole Hannah-Jones on ‘The 1619 Project’

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet