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The antiquities collection tells the history of Iraq's ancient civilizations.

Jess McHugh
November 03, 2016

Iraq opened its first museum in decades in a rather surprising location: Saddam Hussein's faux-rococo palace in Basra.

Situated near the border with Kuwait in southern Iraq, the museum houses thousands of ancient artifacts, some of them dating back more than 2,000 years.

And the president of the Basra Museum says the choice of location was neither accidental nor a question of convenience. Museum president Qahtan al-Obaid said the leadership of the museum chose the location to “replace the themes of dictatorship and tyranny with civilization and humanity,” the Associated Press reported.

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Artifacts include pottery and coins from as early as 400 B.C., which look to document the history of the ancient civilizations that sprung from Iraq.

“Iraq is historically significant for many reasons, but at the top of the list must be that it encompasses areas where some of the earliest civilizations emerged,” Seth Cantey, professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, told BBC. “Iraq was once among the most prominent centers of global learning.”

The first hall opened in September, costing $750,000 to complete, according to the AP. When the entire museum is completed after raising more funds, it will house 3,500 to 4,000 objects from Iraq’s most prominent early historical periods, BBC reported.

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