[size=36]The "Gilgamesh" treasure is on its way to Iraq.. Washington comments on (the epic story)[/size]
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, the United States announced that it had returned to Iraq a 3,500-year-old cuneiform tablet containing a part of the "Epic of Gilgamesh" after it was found by the American authorities that it had been stolen from an Iraqi museum in 1991 and then smuggled years later to America.
Iraqi Culture Minister Hassan Nazim said at a ceremony in Washington that the process of recovering this piece "restores self-respect and confidence to Iraqi society."
The archaeological tablet made of clay and inscribed with cuneiform is part of the "Epic of Gilgamesh", which is considered one of the oldest literary works of mankind and narrates the adventures of a powerful Mesopotamian king in his quest for immortality.
For her part, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said today, Friday, that "this story influenced the major monotheistic religions and left traces on the Iliad and the Odyssey."
She added that "the epic of Gilgamesh tells us what we have in common" and reclaiming it represents "a great victory over those who distort the heritage."
Meanwhile, Kenneth Polight, a senior official in the US Department of Justice, said that "his repatriation is in itself an epic story."
According to the American authorities, this archaeological treasure was stolen from an Iraqi museum in 1991 during the first Gulf War, and then bought in 2003 by an American art dealer from a Jordanian family residing in London and shipped to the United States without declaring to American customs about the nature of the shipment.
After the tablet arrived in the United States, the dealer sold it in 2007 to other dealers for $50,000, with a forged certificate of origin.
In 2014, the board was purchased for $1.67 million by the Green family, who owns the Hobby Lobby chain of stores.
But in 2017, a museum curator expressed concern about the tablet's provenance after finding that the documents presented during its purchase were incomplete.
In September 2019, the US authorities confiscated this artifact, until a federal judge approved at the end of last July to return it to Iraq.
Despite its small size, the value of this antique tablet is enormous.
Last July, the United States returned to Iraq 17,000 artifacts, the majority of which date back to four thousand years, especially to the Sumerian civilization, one of the oldest civilizations in Mesopotamia. Ended 29/A4