Iraqi museum unveils ‘looted’ artefacts

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Over 2,000 artefacts, including about 100 that were looted and found abroad, were unveiled in Basra museum. (AFP)
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The heritage of Iraq, most of which was former Mesopotamia, has paid a heavy price due to the wars that have ravaged the country for nearly four decades. (AFP)
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The museum is located in southern Iraq. (AFP)
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People visit one of the three newly opened galleries in southern Iraq's Basra museum, on March 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019

Iraqi museum unveils ‘looted’ artefacts

  • Basra is the most oil-rich province in Iraq but its heritage sites have long been neglected
  • US says it has repatriated more than 3,000 stolen artefacts to Iraq since 2005

BASRA, Iraq: Over 2,000 artefacts, including about 100 that were looted and found abroad, were unveiled Tuesday in a museum in Basra province on the southern tip of Iraq, authorities said.
Basra is the most oil-rich province in Iraq but its heritage sites have long been neglected.
On Tuesday between 2,000 and 2,500 pieces went on display in the Basra Museum, the second largest in Iraq, said Qahtan Al-Obeid, head of archaeology and heritage in the province.
“They date from 6000 BC to 1500 AD,” he told AFP, referring to the Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian periods.
Obeid said about 100 artefacts — most of which came from Jordan and the United States — were given back to Iraq to be displayed in the museum, a former palace of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.
The heritage of Iraq, most of which was former Mesopotamia, has paid a heavy price due to the wars that have ravaged the country for nearly four decades.
Following the US-led invasion that overthrew Saddam in 2003, Daesh group militants destroyed many of the country’s ancient statues and pre-Islamic treasures.
During its occupation of nearly a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, Daesh captured much attention by posting videos of its militants destroying statues and heritage sites with sledgehammers and pneumatic drills on the grounds that they are idolatrous.
But experts say they mostly destroyed pieces too large to smuggle and sell off, and kept the smaller pieces, several of which are already resurfacing on the black market in the West.
The United States says it has repatriated more than 3,000 stolen artefacts to Iraq since 2005, including many seized in conflict zones in the Middle East.


Spider-Man’s Marvel future in peril as Sony deal breaks down

Updated 21 August 2019

Spider-Man’s Marvel future in peril as Sony deal breaks down

  • The Marvel movies have together grossed $22 billion at the global box office
  • A key aspect of that partnership has now broken down

LOS ANGELES: Marvel’s superhero films could lose their most famous character after Sony confirmed Tuesday that talks over its deal to share Spider-Man with the Disney-owned studio have broken down.
The Marvel movies have together grossed $22 billion at the global box office, and British actor Tom Holland’s Spider-Man has become an increasingly central figure in the most lucrative franchise in film history.
But while the teen web-slinger has for decades been the crown jewel of the Marvel comic book empire on which the films are based, Sony owns the character’s movie rights.
He only began appearing in Disney-owned Marvel’s “cinematic universe” after the Hollywood giants stuck an almost-unprecedented, and still highly secretive, 2015 deal to co-produce and split profits across the films.
A key aspect of that partnership has now broken down.
Sony confirmed that Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige — widely credited with the phenomenal boom in comic book movies of the past decade — will no longer produce Spider-Man films, with a spokesman adding the studio was “disappointed.”
“We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him... do not allow time for him to work on IP (intellectual property) they do not own,” the Sony spokesman said in a statement sent to AFP.
The separation makes it “almost certain” that the character Spider-Man will be absent from crossover appearances in future Marvel films, according to Hollywood Reporter journalist Graeme McMillan.
Multiple Hollywood media outlets reported earlier Tuesday that Disney and Sony had failed to agree on financial terms for future Spider-Man films.
According to Deadline, which broke the news, Disney had wanted to significantly increase its financial stake in new Spider-Man movies, while Sony refused to alter existing terms.
Sony said the reports “mischaracterized recent discussions,” but thanked Feige for “the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”
In financial terms, Spider-Man is one of the most successful superheroes in movie history.
Holland’s iteration of Spider-Man has delivered box office gold — he has appeared in a total of five Marvel Studios and Sony films since the collaboration deal, which collectively grossed almost $8 billion worldwide.
These included Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame,” the highest-grossing movie of all time.
At Comic-Con last month, Marvel Studios set out a timeline of films and television shows scheduled for the next two years including new outings for popular characters Thor, Black Widow, Doctor Strange and Loki — but none featuring Spider-Man.
Feige is also expected to be busy overseeing new Marvel franchises acquired by Disney in its purchase of 21st Century Fox, which include the popular “X-Men.”
Sony last year produced an Oscar-winning Spider-Man animation separate from Marvel Studios’ domain, as well as a standalone film centered on popular Spider-Man villain Venom.
Disney did not immediately respond to request for comment.