Museum of the Bible returns 5,000 artifacts to Egypt, more than 8,000 to Iraq

by Jordyn Pair · Feb 2nd, 2021 10:05 am

Last Updated Feb 2nd, 2021 at 9:51 pm

Five thousand manuscripts and bits of papyrus have been returned to Egypt, just weeks after the Museum of the Bible turned over control of the artifacts to the U.S. government. The items were thought to have been illegally shipped during the Arab Spring.

The museum also sent more than 8,000 artifacts back to Iraq.

The Egyptian artifacts included manuscript fragments, funeral masks, coffin parts, and head of statues. The process of their return started in late 2017, said MOTB Chairman of the Board Steve Green in a statement last week.

"We understand the U.S. government has now delivered the papyri to Egyptian officials," Green said. "...We appreciate the assistance and professionalism of the U.S. government officials in helping with the logistics of these repatriations."

Green, the president of Hobby Lobby, said that the U.S. government had become involved after the museum was "not able to finalize the desired agreements nor resolve the logistics of shipping the items to Iraq and Egypt."

Hobby Lobby agreed in July 2017 to pay $3 million and forfeit thousands of artifacts after the U.S. government filed a complaint against the company that alleged the company had acquired artifacts illegally.

"We should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled," Green said in a statement on the settlement. "Hobby Lobby has cooperated with the government throughout its investigation, and with the announcement of today's settlement agreement, is pleased the matter has been resolved."


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