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More on Hobby Lobby forfeiture 

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 This week’s announcement that Hobby Lobby reached an agreement with the U.S. government over hundreds of smuggled cuneiform tablets and other artifacts brought a lot of questions. People were under the impression that the historical loot was being sold at stores.

But, this report by NPR indicates Hobby Lobby’s owners are in the process of building a Bible museum. Below is the forfeiture complaint, which has a lot of details but sheds no light on why the items were acquired.

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Forfeiture filed for Hobby Lobby artifacts

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tablets edit

Cuneiform tablet. Photo courtesty ICE

Courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement

NEW YORK – Pursuant to an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations New York of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates, the United States filed civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae.

As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby and the shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”

The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.

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