Looted Gilgamesh Tablet Returns to Iraq After 30 Years

The 3,500-year-old Gilgamesh Dream Tablet has returned to Iraq, 30 years after it was looted during the Gulf War, officials said.

The rare cuneiform tablet bears a portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the world’s oldest works of literature.

Iraq’s foreign minister handed the tablet over to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities in a ceremony held on December 7 at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad. The foreign minister, Fuad Hussein, said, “this day represents a victory over the miserable attempts to steal our great history and ancient civilization.”

The tablet “entered the United States contrary to federal law” when it was sold to Hobby Lobby and then housed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, the Department of Justice said. It was seized from the museum by law enforcement agents in 2019, officials said.

Ownership of the tablet was transferred from the United States to Iraq during a ceremony held at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington in September.

This footage was published by the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Credit: Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Storyful