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.
This clay tablet with a cuneiform-shaped tablet made of clay is 3,500 years old and the center of the repatriation program for antiquities taken from Iraq over many decades. On Tuesday, it was put on display in Baghdad alongside two other items – a Sumerian ram’s head and a Sumerian tablet. They were retrieved from the US, UK.
Hassan Nazim, the Iraqi Minister for Culture and Antiquities said that the return of artifacts was a message to those who are interested in smuggled goods. “ultimately, the fate of such operations is restitution.”
So-called “The ‘Real Deal” “Gilgamesh Dream Tablet”The part of the Sumerian Epic in which Gilgamesh recounts his dreams to Ninsun his mother (the goddess Ninsun) and asks her for her interpretation is retold. Although the tablet is among Iraq’s oldest literary resources, its origin is not known.
Some media outlets mistakenly attribute it to a 12-tablet-sized collection that was discovered in 1853 in excavations of the Library of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal’s Ruins. This material ended up at the British Museum.
During the 1991 Gulf War, the tablet was stolen from an Iraqi museum. It was then somehow moved out of Iraq. The tablet was discovered in England in 2001. It is believed to have been smuggled into the United States in 2003.
The Hobby Lobby craft chain purchased it in 2014. Its Evangelical Christian family owner eventually placed it in the Museum of the Bible, Washington. Later, over 5,500 of the museum’s items were identified as stolen artifacts.
In September 2019, Gilgamesh Dream Tablet was seized by US agents. Federal Judge approved that the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet be forfeited. It was also transported to Iraq by federal agents in September 2019.