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Forfeiture of ancient tablet bought by Hobby Lobby approved

Prosecutors say the cuneiform tablet was illegally transported to the U.S. in 2003 and again in 2014.
Credit: AP
This photo provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, shows a portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh that was looted from Iraq and sold for $1.6 million to Hobby Lobby for display in the Museum of the Bible. A federal judge in New York has approved the forfeiture of the 3,500-year-old clay tablet. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement-ICE via AP)

NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York has approved the forfeiture of a 3,500-year-old clay tablet bearing a portion of the Epic of Gilgamesh that was looted from Iraq and sold for $1.6 million to Hobby Lobby for display in the Museum of the Bible.

The cuneiform tablet was written in the ancient language of Akkadian and dates from around 1500 B.C. Prosecutors say it was illegally transported to the U.S. in 2003 and again in 2014. The tablet was seized from the Museum of the Bible in 2019. A message seeking comment was left with Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby on Wednesday.