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Civil Complaint Requests Artifact’s Return to Iraq

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Gilgamesh Cuneiform TabletNEW YORK, NEW YORK—NPR reports that U.S. federal prosecutors have filed a civil complaint in the Eastern District of New York seeking the repatriation of a 3,500-year-old cuneiform tablet fragment to Iraq. The so-called Gilgamesh Dream Tablet measures about five inches by six inches. In the text on the fragment, the hero of the Gilgamesh epic describes his dreams to his mother, who interprets them for him. The government of Iraq is now trying to determine if the tablet fragment was among the thousands of artifacts stolen from regional museums during war and unrest in 1991. According to the civil complaint, the tablet surfaced in London around 2001, and was eventually sold to an American collector in a private sale in 2014. The artifact was later seized by the federal government and is now housed in a Department of Homeland Security warehouse. For more on fragments of the Gilgamesh epic, go to "The World's Oldest Writing: Religion."

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