Thousands of stolen artifacts, including Gilgamesh tablet, to be returned to Iraq from U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. / BAGHDAD — Coinciding with the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the United States, a federal court in New York ordered the craft and hobby chain Hobby Lobby to hand over the famous ancient artifact known as the “Dream of Gilgamesh” which was looted from Iraq during the first Gulf War and sold at auction in 2014 for nearly $1.5 million.

The 3,500-year-old clay tablet, which was located at the Bible Museum in Washington, D.C. established by founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby David Green, was confiscated by U.S. authorities in 2019.

Jacqueline Cassoulis, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, confirmed that the Justice Department intends to return the rare and ancient masterpiece of world literature to its native Iraq and that they are awaiting the department’s decision.

Indeed, it did not take long until the Department decided to return the board, in addition to some 17,000 other clay plates that had been illegally transported to the United States.

According to Iraqi Culture Minister Hassan Nazim, the pieces will return to Iraq on Thursday on the same plane carrying PM al-Kadhimi.

Nazim explained that the majority of the returned pieces come from Cornell University, which has a wide archive of ancient nail panels, and expressed the hope of working and coordinating with Iraq’s embassies in European countries and the world to recover the remaining artifacts.