A 3,500-year-old clay tablet purchased by the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts chain for $1.6 million has been forfeited to the United States.
The tablet, which bears a portion of the epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian poem considered one of the world’s oldest works, originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and was illegally transported to the U.S. in 2003 and 2014.
A false provenance letter was used to sell the tablet several times before Hobby Lobby purchased the item from a London-based auction house in 2014.
The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet was seized by law enforcement agents from Hobby Lobby’s Washington, D.C.-based Museum of the Bible in 2019. In a complaint filed in May 2020, prosecutors said the 5-by-6-inch tablet is considered the property of the Iraqi government and should be returned. The arts and crafts company cooperated with the investigation.