Libya hails return of ancient treasures from Britain

Thu May 27, 2010 1:49pm EDT
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By Salah Sarrar

TRIPOLI (Reuters Life!) - A British woman has handed back to Libya a collection of ancient artefacts which her father, an amateur archaeologist, took from the north African country when it was administered by Britain after World War Two.

The artefacts were part of a consignment -- including a Hellenic ram, Roman terracotta oil lamps, the head of a statue of Bacchus and wall decorations -- returned by relatives and friends of Britons who took them from Libya decades ago.

Jean Hugo from Wales said her family found a box of antiquities under her father's bed after he died in 1996 and she felt compelled to bring back the items he collected.

She lived in the Libyan city of Khoms, not far from the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna, from 1953 to 1959 where her father was headmaster of the British army school.

"He was very interested in archaeology, so he did a lot of work at Leptis Magna," she said at a ceremony in Tripoli late on Wednesday to mark the return of the artefacts.

"There was nowhere to house the objects he found at the time ... I will miss them terribly but they are back in their right place."


Libya's government says it wants to draw more tourists to its ancient sites and has been tracking down items that were sold, given or taken over four centuries of Turkish Ottoman and Italian rule and during the British administration of 1943-1951.   Continued...

<p>A Roman terracotta figurine of two wrestlers which was returned to Libya is displayed at the Tripoli Museum May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny</p>