In 1877 the French consul at Bassorah, Ernest de Sarzec, initiated excavations on the site of Tello in southern Iraq. The artefacts, reliefs and sculptures found there bore inscriptions in an unknown language, bringing about the rediscovery of the Sumerians. Captain Gaston Cros proceeded with work on the site until 1909. Troubles in the region then worsened, culminating in the outbreak of the First World War. Between 1909 and 1924 looting took place on a grand scale. Major artefacts, often with inscriptions, came into the possession of the dealer Gejou. Between 1924 and 1925 a series of statues of the Sumerian dynasty, including the statue of Ur-Ningirsu, were sold to various European and American institutions or collectors. In 1974 the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York signed an agreement to the effect that the two institutions would reunite the head and body of the Sumerian statue and take turns to exhibit the whole artefact every four years.