Baghdad, 8 December 2021 (TDI): The Foreign Minister of Iraq Fuad Hussein has recently confirmed on Tuesday that ancient antiquity is set to be returned soon. The ancient relic mentions the epic of Gilgamesh of the Sumerian city of Uruk. Additionally, the relic is one of many artifacts repatriated in recent years. The spokesperson Ahmed Al-sahaf additionally stated that the Iraqi Foreign Ministry is to hold a ceremony in Baghdad to formally receive the tablet. Previously, US company Hobby Lobby had bought the ancient tablet for $1.67 million in 2014. It was then subsequently displayed at the Museum of the Bible in Washington.
Iraq succeeds in recovering ancient artifacts
“Iraq’s diplomatic efforts succeeded in recovering more than 17,500 ancient antiquities,” he said. Furthermore, he said: ‘Iraq succeeded in recovering items from our embassies in America, Italy, Britain, France, Japan, and the Netherlands almost within a year.’
The ancient relic measures around 6 by 5 inches. The Epic of Gilgamesh is written in the Akkadian language. Though, Gilgamesh (c. 2112 – c. 2004 BC) is considered as a major figure in the comparatively much older Sumerian legend. The Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh was written by the scribe during the Middle Babylonian Period (c. 1600 – c. 1155 BC).
The discovery of the Epic of Gilgamesh relic was made in 18419 in the ancient library of Ashurbanipal. There was much discussion regarding its similarities with the Hebrew Bible. The story of the Great flood is mentioned with a person is known as Utnapishtim closely resembles the figure of Noah.
US Department orders return of Gilgamesh tablet
The US Department of Justice ordered in 2019 to return the tablet to Iraq. This was due to the reason that the necessary documentation required for the legal process was incomplete. Moreover, the US Department of Justice also highlighted that the tablet needs to be preserved as it remained unreadable due to being ‘encrusted with dirt.’ It became known as well as that London coin dealer’s family member had bought it in 2003.
The experts in cuneiform recognized it as bearing a portion of the Gilgamesh epic subsequently when the tablet was cleaned after being imported.
وزارة الثقافة تتسلّم لوح گلگامش من وزارة الخارجية. تحية لجهود وزارتي الخارجية والثقافة (الهيئة العامة للآثار والتراث). دبلوماسية الاسترداد مستمرة بعد أكبر حدثيْ استرداد في العام: لوح گلگامش و 17000 قطعة أثرية استعيدت من الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. #العراق pic.twitter.com/TWrOnOBmUz
— Hassan Nadhem (@HassanNadhem) December 7, 2021
The tablet has already been formally handed over to Iraqi Minister of Culture Hassan Nazim and Iraq’s embassy representatives in Washington in September.
Gilgamesh is not only a treasure for Iraq, but also for our common humanity. @smithsonian @StateDept @IraqiEmbassyUSA@DHSgov Homeland security @TheJusticeDept Dept of Justice @HassanNadhem #unesco #culture pic.twitter.com/juIEZPbviO
— Audrey Azoulay (@AAzoulay)
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay declared it as a ‘significant victory in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects’.