In 2003, after U.S. forces failed to secure The National Museum of Irag in Baghdad, looters ran amok, stealing somewhere in the range of 15,000 artifacts. in 2009, the museum reopened after a wide-spanning effort to recover the artifacts was initiated. Reports say that some 6,000 artifacts were recovered for the opening.
However, the region's museums have found themselves in a bind that goes against their very philosophy of preservation. The Slemani Museum has literally had to buy back artifacts from the same looters that stole the pieces from museums in the first place. Going against the protocol of the international community, local authorities fought to regain their national treasures.
"The position of not just UNESCO but the international museum community is that we don't buy back looted objects because it encourages looting. Simple. Full stop," Stuart Gibson, director of the UNESCO Sulaimaniya Museum Project said to CNN.
"The Kurdish authorities took a very difficult and I must admit a very courageous position and they said we are going to buy these objects," Gibson added.
Though the practice is not advisable, the importance of the recovered artifacts seems to be worth the controversial arrangement. One of the pieces recovered is an ancient document, outlining the democratic process for future generations.
"It's a full Sumerian text written during the old Babylonian period, around 1,800-900 B.C.," Dr. Farouk Al-Rawi, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
"It is the first document to tell us about democracy. It concerns the establishment of two assemblies," Al-Rawi added. In an effort to gain back cultural artifacts that speak not just to the specific region, but to human history as a whole, can a monetary cost even be considered?