US authorities take ownership of ancient artefact

US authorities take ownership of artefact
US authorities say the item was illegally imported into the US. Source: US IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT
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Daily US Times: A federal court in the US has ordered that Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, a rare ancient artefact, must be surrendered to authorities.

The 3,500-year-old tablet bears text from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is considered one of the world’s oldest works of literature. It was from what is now Iraq.

Officials say that the artefact illegally imported before being purchased by the Christian-owned brand Hobby Lobby.

The rare item was bought to be put on display in Washington DC’s the Museum of the Bible.

The museum, chaired by the craft shop’s president, has been plagued by controversies about its collection.

The item was purchased by a US antiquities dealer in 2003 in London, according to officials. The dealer then shipped it to the United States without declaring the contents and sold it on with false documentation.

After changing hands several times, the artefact was eventually bought by Hobby Lobby from an auction house for more than $1.67m in 2014.

Jacquelyn M Kasulis, acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, described the development as “an important milestone on the path to returning this rare and ancient masterpiece of world literature to its country of origin”.

Officials said in a Tuesday statement that Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture.

The artefact, Known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, features sections of a Sumerian poem – parts of the epic mirror stories from the Old Testament, such as the Garden of Eden.

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