Ancient Yemeni tombstone stolen and smuggled to France

Ancient Yemeni tombstone stolen and smuggled to France

The Yemeni researcher interested in antiquities, Abdullah Mohsen, has revealed the theft of an archaeological tombstone from the Kingdom of Ma’een, “north of Ma’rib,” along with the clay that was smuggled to France through the airport of Balhaf LNG facility in Shabwah province.

Mohsen said in a post on his Facebook page, “The tombstone was transferred from Jawf by land to the airport of the Balhaf LNG facility in Shabwah, and from there by air to France, according to the testimony of a former security officer at the airport,” without specifying the period during which it was transferred.

He added, “I have not been able to verify another source until this moment, and then it was flown to the United States without the mud covering its face and filling the eye sockets being wiped off, unless he was reburied in the courtyard of the home or warehouse of the antiquities dealer Musa Al-Khouli in New York.”

Mohsen continued, “The tombstone remained away from the grave of its owner, Al-Ma’eeni, for years until forces affiliated with the US Department of Homeland Security recovered it after Al-Khuli’s confession, along with a number of Yemeni antiquities; almost all of them are tombstones as if they were excavated from a single cemetery, with the exception of a bronze vessel and some pages of a Qur’anic manuscript.”

He stated that the tombstone was returned under the supervision of the Federal Prosecutor in New York, Brion Pace, to the Embassy of Yemen, which in turn deposited it with the same clay in the Smithsonian Museum.

The researcher pointed out that this case of smuggling an archaeological tombstone from Yemen provides an example of the ease of smuggling antiquities and even reinforces the hypothesis of selling Yemeni antiquities from their discovery sites wholesale and not retail, and nothing is more evident than the similarity of 65 antiquities from the recovered collection.

It is worth noting that the French company TOTAL is the operator of the Balhaf LNG facility located on the coast of the Arabian Sea in the Radhom district of Shabwah province, controlled by UAE-backed factions in eastern Yemen.

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