The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet - 1 of the oldest surviving literate works successful past - is to beryllium returned to Iraq by the United States aboriginal this week, the UN bureau for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), said on Monday.

Made of clay and priceless, the Gilgamesh Tablet features inscriptions successful Sumerian, a civilisation of past Mesopotamia.

The 3,500-year-old treasure was taken from a depository successful Iraq aft the commencement of the Gulf War successful August 1990.

In 2007, it was introduced fraudulently into the US creation market. According to quality reports, the artefact was acquired successful 2014 by the trade retail chain, Hobby Lobby, for show astatine the Museum of the Bible, successful Washington DC – which is funded by the household of Hobby Lobby’s owner.

The US Department of Justice announced successful July, that it was ordering the authoritative handing implicit of the tablet, arsenic it had entered the US “contrary to national law”, noting that national agents had seized the tablet from the museum, successful September 2019. 

'Major victory'

It volition present beryllium formally returned to Iraq astatine a ceremonial astatine the Smithsonian Institution successful Washington DC this Thursday.

“By returning these illegally acquired objects, the authorities present successful the United States and successful Iraq are allowing the Iraqi radical to reconnect with a leafage successful their history”, said UNESCO’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, successful a celebratory message. “This exceptional restitution is simply a large triumph implicit those who mutilate practice and past postulation it to concern unit and terrorism.”

The Gilgamesh Tablet, a 3,500-year-old tablet from what is present  Iraq, is 1  of the world's oldest works   of literature.


The Gilgamesh Tablet, a 3,500-year-old tablet from what is present Iraq, is 1 of the world's oldest works of literature.

First impressions

The tablet, with its distinctive wedge-like cuneiform impressions, contains sections of a Sumerian epic poem successful which the hero, Gilgamesh, recounts his dreams to his mother.

Some of the stories are mirrored by the Old Testament – for lawsuit the notation to the Great Flood - making it 1 of the world’s oldest known spiritual texts, UNESCO said.

The UN bureau said that different 17,000 artefacts volition beryllium returned to Iraq from the US aft Thursday’s ceremony.

Destructive approach

According to Interpol, there has been a sizeable planetary summation successful the demolition of taste practice owing to equipped struggle successful the past decade.

UNESCO noted that the authorities successful the United States, which represents an estimated 44 per cent of the planetary creation market, person made important advancement successful tackling stolen artefacts successful caller years.

With the assistance of improved authorities and the assistance of cardinal taste institutions, the US Antiquities Trafficking Unit has helped to instrumentality invaluable items to the radical of Pakistan, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal and Sri Lanka already this year, the UN bureau said. 

“The United States profoundly values the taste practice of Iraq,” said Stacy White, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs astatine the US Department of State, who volition talk astatine the Smithsonian event.

“We person worked for astir 20 years with Iraqi counterparts and American world and non-profit institutions to protect, sphere and honour the affluent taste practice of Iraq.”