Thursday, May 3, 2018

United States officials return 3,800 smuggled ancient artifacts to Iraq

The artifacts include many tablets from the ancient city of Irisagrig, primarily from the Ur III and Old Babylonian period, are mostly legal and administrative documents, but also include a collection of Early Dynastic incantations and a bilingual religious text from the Neo-Babylonian period. Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP.
WASHINGTON (AFP).- US officials on Wednesday returned to Iraq 3,800 ancient artifacts that had been smuggled into the United States and shipped to a nationwide arts and crafts retailer. The items include cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, and clay bullae. Many of the tablets come from the ancient city of Irisagrig and date back to 2100-1600 BCE, officials said. Packages of cuneiform tablets were initially intercepted by customs agents and falsely labeled as tile samples for retailer Hobby Lobby. The company last year agreed to forfeit thousands of ancient Iraqi artifacts and pay $3 million to settle a civil suit brought by the US government, attributing its purchase of the illegally imported items to naivete. [More]