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US returns thousands of smuggled biblical artifacts to Iraq

todayNovember 15, 2022 19

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Cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, and clay bullae dating back to 2100-1600 BCE were initially intercepted by customs agents and found to be falsely labeled as tile samples for retailer Hobby Lobby.

The company – whose president, Steve Green is the founder of the Museum of the Bible – agreed last year to surrender the items it received and pay $3 million to settle civil proceedings brought by the US Justice Department.


Court documents revealed the company purchased more than 5,500 artifacts, but has agreed that if it receives any of the remaining items or learns where they are, it will notify the federal government.

However, the privately held Hobby Lobby has insisted the seized artifacts were not intended for the museum.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Handout


In a statement, the company said it had been acquiring artifacts “consistent with the company’s mission and passion for the Bible”.

US Attorney Richard Donoghue said US officials “are proud to have played a role in removing these pieces of Iraq’s history from the black market of illegally obtained antiquities and restoring them to the Iraqi people”.

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Written by: Steven Grimmer

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