WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the US returned a uncommon cuneiform pill bearing a portion of the epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian poem thought of one of many world’s oldest works of literature, to the Republic of Iraq, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI). The repatriation ceremony of the $1.7 million artifact came about on the Smithsonian Establishment’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
The “Gilgamesh Dream Pill,” originated in what’s now modern-day Iraq and entered the US in violation of federal legislation. A world public sale home (the “Public sale Home”) later bought the pill to Passion Foyer Shops, Inc. (“Passion Foyer”), an arts-and-crafts retailer primarily based in Oklahoma Metropolis, Oklahoma, for show on the Museum of the Bible. HSI particular brokers seized the pill from the Museum in September 2019, also called the Hobby Lobby Case.
HSI Appearing Government Affiliate Director Steve Okay. Francis and Iraq’s Ambassador to the US Fareed Yasseen signed a ceremonial certificates transferring possession of the artifact from the US to Iraq.
Kenneth A. Well mannered, Jr., Assistant Lawyer Normal of the Justice Division’s Felony Division; Stacy White, Appearing Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Academic and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Division of State; Joey Hood, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Close to Jap Affairs; Hassan Nadhem, Minister of Tradition, Tourism and Antiquities; Audrey Azoulay, Director-Normal of United Nations Academic, Scientific and Cultural Group; and Richard Kurin, Ambassador-at-large for the Smithsonian Establishment additionally participated within the repatriation ceremony.
The U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace for the Jap District of New York and the Division of Justice’s Cash Laundering and Asset Restoration Part (MLARS) labored with HSI to forfeit the pill in July 2021.
“Stealing a nation’s cultural property and antiquities is likely one of the oldest types of organized transnational crime. Since 2007, HSI has recovered and returned over 15,000 artifacts to greater than 40 international locations, together with greater than 5,000 artifacts to Iraq,” stated HSI Government Affiliate Director Steve Francis. “Whereas we acknowledge cultural property, artwork and antiquities are sometimes assigned a greenback worth within the market, the which means of those historic nationwide treasures to the Iraqi individuals far surpasses any financial worth. We’re proud to have helped of their restoration and return so future generations might proceed examine and admire them for years to return.”
“We hope that returning the Gilgamesh Dream Pill to the Republic of Iraq is a message to the individuals of Iraq, and to the world, that the US authorities will take motion to grab and repatriate antiquities and different vital gadgets of cultural heritage which have been unlawfully introduced into the US,” stated Assistant Lawyer Normal Kenneth A. Well mannered Jr. of the Justice Division’s Felony Division.
“The return of this historical masterpiece of world literature to its nation of origin and the Iraqi individuals is the fruits of an essential civil forfeiture case that demonstrates this Workplace’s dedication to combating the black-market sale of cultural property and the smuggling of looted artifacts,” said Appearing U.S. Lawyer for the Jap District of New York Jacquelyn M. Kasulis.
“Immediately, Iraq is reclaiming a bit of its cultural historical past,” said HSI New York Particular Agent in Cost, Peter C. Fitzhugh. “We’re honored to have performed a job within the repatriation of this uncommon pill that was pillaged from Iraq, solely to be bought with out a legitimate provenance and any regard for his cultural worth. HSI New York’s Cultural Property, Arts and Antiquity Investigations program will proceed to work tirelessly to interrupt the prison actions of those that loot antiquities and search to revenue off the theft of a rustic’s wealthy historical past.”
Background of the Gilgamesh Dream Pill
As alleged within the authorities’s amended criticism, in 2003 a U.S. antiquities vendor bought the Gilgamesh Dream Pill, encrusted with dust and illegible, from a member of the family of a coin vendor in London. The Antiquities Vendor and a U.S. cuneiform skilled shipped the pill to the US by worldwide put up with out declaring formal entry. After the pill was imported and cleaned, specialists in cuneiform acknowledged it as bearing a portion of the Gilgamesh epic wherein the protagonist describes his desires to his mom. The protagonist’s mom interprets the desires as foretelling the arrival of a brand new buddy. She tells her son, “You will notice him and your coronary heart will snicker.” The names of the hero, Gilgamesh, and the character who turns into his buddy, Enkidu, are changed on this pill with the names of deities Sin and Ea. The pill measures roughly 6-inches by 5-inches and is written within the Akkadian language, which was spoken in historical Mesopotamia.
In 2007, the Antiquities Vendor bought the Gilgamesh Dream Pill with a false provenance letter that said the pill had been amongst miscellaneous historical bronze fragments bought in a 1981 public sale. This false letter traveled with the pill because it was bought a number of occasions in several international locations, and a later proprietor supplied the letter to the Public sale Home in London. In 2014, the Public sale Home bought the Gilgamesh Dream Pill to Passion Foyer in a non-public sale and an Public sale Home worker carried it on a flight from London to the US after which transferred it to New York. Passion Foyer consented to the pill’s forfeiture primarily based on the pill’s unlawful importation into the US in 2014.
The federal government’s case was dealt with by Assistant U.S. Lawyer Sylvia Shweder and Senior Trial Lawyer Ann Brickley of MLARS.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Division of Homeland Safety (DHS), liable for investigating transnational crime and threats, particularly these prison organizations that exploit the worldwide infrastructure by which worldwide commerce, journey, and finance transfer.
HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 workers consists of greater than 7,100 particular brokers assigned to 220 cities all through the US, and 80 abroad areas in 53 international locations. HSI’s worldwide presence represents DHS’s largest investigative legislation enforcement presence overseas and one of many largest worldwide footprints in U.S. legislation enforcement.