Bel Trew, Cairo
Egypt is investigating the possible illegal acquisition of national artefacts by an American craft store company, including a 5th-century fragment of the Bible that was displayed at the Vatican.
Hobby Lobby, owned by the multibillionaire Green family, agreed to forfeit 5,000 artefacts this month after a US federal investigation found that they came from Iraq and were shipped under false labels via the UAE and Israel.
The Oklahoma company, which began acquiring historic items in 2009 to set up the Museum of the Bible in Washington, had to pay an additional $3 million to settle civil cases.
The forfeited items include tablets covered in cuneiform, an ancient system of writing. Egyptian officials have raised the alarm about other items within the Green Collection, including 1,600-year-old New Testament fragments.
A spokesman for the repatriations department of the Egyptian antiquities ministry told The Times: “We have launched an investigation into the matter, contacted the embassy abroad and the foreign ministry to try to find more details.”
Read full article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hobby-lobby-under-investigation-over-sale-of-5th-century-bible-fragment-thvs8zq93