Forfeiture of ancient tablet bought by Hobby Lobby approved

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WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 02: Ancient artifacts, smuggled into the U.S. in violation of federal law and shipped to Hobby Lobby stores, are shown at an event returning the artifacts to Iraq May 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Thomas Homan and Iraqi Ambassador to the United States Fareed Yasseen signed an agreement returning the artifacts to Iraq that were seized. The artifacts include many tablets from the ancient city of Irisagrig, primarily from the Ur III and Old Babylonian period, are mostly legal and administrative documents, but also include a collection of Early Dynastic incantations and a bilingual religious text from the Neo-Babylonian period. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — 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.

The tablet 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 was left with Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby on Wednesday seeking comment.

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