U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Iraqi artifacts seized from Hobby Lobby return home

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned thousands of ancient artifacts to Iraq in a repatriation ceremony yesterday. Hobby Lobby, a national arts and crafts retail chain, bought the relics in 2010 for $1.6 million from an unnamed dealer, despite warnings from experts that the artifacts were possibly taken from archaeological sites, The New York Times reports. The items were originally shipped to the United States from Israel and the United Arab Emirates in packages falsely labeled as tile samples. The 3800 items, which include bilingual religious texts from the Neo-Babylonian period and several cuneiform tablets that were likely administrative and legal documents from the city of Irisagrig in Mesopotamia, will now go to the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad for study and display.

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