According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae that originated in Iraq have been smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, shipped to Hobby Lobby stores. The shipping labels on these artifacts falsely labeled packages as tile “samples.” This allowed 5,500 artifacts to be smuggled into the United States without proper documentation.
The company has been financing a museum dedicated to the Bible that is set to open in the fall. They have been collecting ancient books and artifacts throughout the Middle East with disregard to how they were obtained. The President of Hobby Lobby had been warned by its lawyers that the artifacts may have been looted from historical sites in Iraq, and that by taking them they would be breaking the law.
Prosecutors on Wednesday have requested that Hobby Lobby return all artifacts in addition to the payment of $3 million to resolve the civil action. The president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green, and its representatives have complied with the government and the company has already taken action to prevent the future purchase of looted artifacts.