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Ancient epic seized from Hobby Lobby welcomed back in Iraq

A clay tablet retelling part of the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ – one of thousands of ancient artifacts looted and smuggled out of Iraq, mostly to the US – has been formally returned to its rightful owner.
The 3,500-year-old clay cuneiform tablet is the centerpiece of the program of repatriation of antiquities stolen from Iraq over decades. On Tuesday, it was put on display in Baghdad alongside two other items – a Sumerian ram’s head and a Sumerian tablet. The artifacts were recovered from the US and the UK.

Speaking during a media conference, Iraqi Minister of Culture and Antiquities Hassan Nazim said the return of the artifacts sent a signal to buyers of smuggled items that “ultimately, the fate of such operations is restitution.”

<blockquote>
    <span><strong>Read more</strong></span>
    <figure>
        <img src="https://cdni.rt.com/files/2021.07/thumbnail/6100abe585f5404c7c285329.jpg" alt="FILE PHOTO: Cuneiform tablet with Gilgamesh Flood Epic. Babylonian, c17th century BC. Southern Iraq. British Museum © Global Look Press" />
        <figcaption><a href="/usa/530422-gilgamesh-tablet-museum-seized/">Gilgamesh Dream: US confiscates Sumerian tablet stolen from Iraq &amp; bought by Hobby Lobby</a></figcaption>
    </figure>
</blockquote>

The so-called “Gilgamesh Dream Tablet” retells the part of the Sumerian epic, in which the hero Gilgamesh tells his dreams to his mother, the goddess Ninsun, asking her to interpret them. The tablet is one of the oldest literary sources in Iraq, but its exact origin remains unknown.

Some media outlets incorrectly trace it back to a 12-tablet collection found in 1853 during the excavation of the ruin of the library of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal, which ended up in the British Museum.

The tablet went missing from an Iraqi museum during the 1991 Gulf War and was somehow transported out of the country. In 2001, it resurfaced in the UK and was allegedly smuggled to the US in 2003.

It was bought in 2014 by craft store chain Hobby Lobby, whose Evangelical Christian family owners eventually put it on display in the Museum of the Bible in Washington. Over 5,500 items in the museum collection were later identified as looted artifacts.

US federal agents seized the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet in September 2019. In July this year, a federal judge approved the forfeiture of the artifact, which was physically transported to Iraq in September, along with over 17,000 stolen items recovered from the US. 
https://ift.tt/31HKsL5 09, 2021 at 03:19PM
from RT – Daily news

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