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Ancient artifacts smuggled by Hobby Lobby are returning to Iraq

Hobby Lobby building
Photo: Moment Mobile ED/Getty Images

Several thousand ancient artifacts — including cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals and clay bullae — that were illegally smuggled into the United States by Hobby Lobby last year under the guise of "tile samples" are on their way back to Iraq, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The backstory: ICE and the Justice Department reached a settlement with the craft retailer last July that included the forfeiture of the artifacts and a $3 million fine. Hobby Lobby has ties to the recently opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., donating millions of dollars worth of artifacts to the museum — though the museum claims that none of the forfeited artifacts were meant for its collection.

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