A large collection consisting of hundreds of 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablets from the mystery city of Irisagrig have just been discovered after having been looted in Iraq and then sold to the American company Hobby Lobby.
After the Sumerian tablets and numerous other stolen artifacts were bought by Hobby Lobby, the U.S. government discovered that they had in fact been stolen from Iraq and they are currently in the process of being repatriated to their home country, according to Live Science.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued a public statement announcing that the 450 Sumerian tablets can be dated from 2100 BC to 1600 BC, with the vast majority of the cuneiform tablets being administrative in nature.
As such, many of these old tablets contain information relating to business contracts, as well as other data such as lists of different goods that business owners would have once worked with. However, some of the Sumerian tablets also contained magical incantations.
As Motherboard reports, while the Sumerian city of Irisagrig is indeed known, its whereabouts are not, as Professor Manuel Molina Martos explained.
“The exact location of this site has been much debated, and regardless of which arguments we may find more convincing, the problem will only be definitively solved by means of surface surveys or regular archaeological excavations. Irisagrig is well documented in cuneiform sources from the third millennium beginning in Early Dynastic times.”
— Motherboard (@motherboard) May 2, 2018
When it comes to the looting of precious artifacts from the Sumerian city of Irisagrig, these are certainly not the first objects to have been stolen from this region of Iraq, although they are the most recent.
Besides the Sumerian cuneiform tablets, Hobby Lobby were also forced to hand over items known as clay bullae as well as cylinder seals. It is being reported that the clay bullae go all the way back to both the Sasanian and Parthian Empires.
In terms of rushing these 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablets straight back to Iraq, there are some scholars that are of the opinion that it would be a great shame if they were to be returned immediately before being thoroughly examined and studied, as Cornell University’s David Owen suggested
“If these tablets are returned and if they are from Irisagrig, it will be a great tragedy for scholarship that they will not be published before they are returned. Once they enter the bowels of the Iraq Museum, it is unlikely scholars will ever have access to them, nor are there any Iraqi scholars capable of publishing them given the many thousands of unpublished texts already in storage in the museum for generations and mostly inaccessible to scholars.”
Despite the wishes of scholars, these 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablets from the lost city of Irisagrig will be officially given back to Iraqi officials on May 2.