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Hobby Lobby in hot seat over ancient artifacts


Crafters and home decor enthusiasts hoping to invoke early Middle Eastern culture in their living rooms and kitchens might have to shop elsewhere. 

Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. will have to forfeit thousands of artifacts poached from modern-day, war-torn Iraq and pay a $3 million fine to resolve a civil action brought on by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to media reports on the Wednesday agreement between the popular home decor and craft store and federal investigators.

Investigators said the company received the falsely labeled artifacts — ancient cuneiform writing tablets and clay bullae, or balls of clay with imprinted seals — from a supplier in the United Arab Emirates. The artifacts were then smuggled into the United States, according to media reports. 

The dealers working with Hobby Lobby later mislabeled the shipments as "ceramics" and "samples" and illegally shipped them to Hobby Lobby stores, federal investigators told reporters.