Arts & Entertainment

Iraq’s 3,500-year-old stolen Epic of Gilgamesh returns home

Baghdad, Dec 7 (EFE).- The Gilgamesh Tablet, a 3,500-year-old clay tablet considered to be one of the earliest epics in history, was unveiled in Baghdad on Tuesday after being recovered and returned by the United States.

During a ceremony organized by Iraq’s foreign ministry, the piece, stolen in 1991, was unveiled alongside another two archeological objects handed by the US and the United Kingdom.

“This day represents a victory over all those who tried to steal our great history and Iraqi civilization, and a message to all those who seek to distort the history of Iraqi Mesopotamia,” foreign minister Fuad Hussein said.

The Tablet of Gilgamesh is one of 12 pieces that still exists with the epic of Gilgamesh, a demigod and king of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk, who sought out complete immortality.

The story, some 5,000 years old and written in the Sumerian language and cuneiform script, one of the earliest writing systems of mankind, is among the oldest epics.

It includes the first allusion to the universal flood, which inspired some of the Hebrew Bible stories.

The tablet, unearthed in 1853 in the ruins in northern Iraq, was stolen from a museum during the Gulf War.

It was recovered by the US authorities after it was acquired in 2014 by a company owned by evangelical Christian businessmen, who wanted to exhibit it in a museum about the Bible in Washington.

A Sumerian piece from the Warka period, that was also confiscated and returned by the US, and a Sumerian painting from southern Iraq delivered by the British Government, were presented on Tuesday.

Over the past few months, Iraq has recovered a total of 17,916 archaeological pieces returned by the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands, Hussein said during the ceremony. EFE

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