Artefacts that were stolen from the National Museum of Iraq and archaeological sites during the chaos following the U.S. occupation in 2003 have been returned by Germany.

Reportedly, 45 items were returned among thousands stolen relics, which were seized by the German police at a public auction. They were returned to the Iraqi officials at a ceremony in Berlin on Monday.

Among the pieces recovered were a 4,500 year old golden vase, a bronze axe head, an Assyrian grey coloured stone, a goddess Basusu statue, clay tablets bearing cuneiform script, a metal amulet and other artefacts.

German law states that items stolen from Iraq after 1990 must be handed over to the country.

"This means that the German government has the right to confiscate them and that is what we have done, and given them back to Iraq," Reuters quoted Alexander Schonfelder, deputy head of the German diplomatic mission in Iraq, as saying.

Iraq is considered rich in history with around 12,000 archaeological sites and has housed several civilizations in five centuries. The Iraqi government is in a quest to find the lost heritage tokens.

"The German Foreign Minister handed over these pieces to the Iraqi ambassador in Berlin in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani" Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, said at a news conference, AK News reported.

Check out the pictures of the relics below: