I think a few Commandments got broken here…

Well, well, well.

It appears that the Greens, the “Christian” family that owns Hobby Lobby, the same lovely people who think that there are one set of laws for them and another for everyone else when it comes to employee healthcare, may have gotten themselves in some hot water with the Federal government.

You see, with their billions of dollars, they have been building quite a collection of historical artifacts associated with the Bible: some 40,000 items, including the second-largest collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, all of which are unpublished (can’t have any more of those “funny” Gospels floating around now, can we?) And a huge number of Jewish scrolls, including many that survived the Nazis and the Inquisition.

It turns out that some of the items in their collection may have been acquired under, shall we say, murky circumstances.

You see, a few years ago they were having several hundred of what they labeled “hand-crafted clay tiles”, valued at around $300 each, shipped from Israel to Oklahoma City.  But the Greens weren’t planning to tile their bathroom.  Customs officials discovered that the tiles were actually cuneiform tablets, thousands of years old, and worth significantly more than what they had been declared.

I remember all the stories about how the Iraqi National Museum was looted back in 2003 during our invasion of Iraq, and although the number of items taken was not as bad as originally thought, there were still thousands of priceless items from Iraq’s history stolen.  And more recently, items looted by ISIS in Syria and Iraq have found their way into the black market and even onto sites like eBay.

And now this.

This isn’t even the first time that missing Biblical artifacts turned up in the Green collection.  But it does seem to be the first time that it has caught the notice of the U.S. Government, and this investigation has apparently been going on for several years now (since 2011, if I understand correctly).  A lot of questions need to be answered, and this gentleman from the UK has an outstanding analysis of what some of them might be.

Generally speaking, when it comes to significant historical items, I agree with that famous archaeologist who said…

I know, I know, he wasn't always careful about preserving the integrity of historic sites. Because Nazis.
I know, I know, he wasn’t always careful about preserving the integrity of historic sites. Because Nazis.

If ever became extremely wealthy, one of the things I would probably do is buy up a lot of Civil War artifacts with the intent of putting them in a museum or museums.  Because it kills me to see items up for auction that have a lot of historical value.  I have seen items for sale that I would love to see in a library or archive somewhere, where historians and researchers can access them but they are still preserved and protected.   I remember seeing a painting of Brigadier General Samuel Beatty for auction a few years ago (a painting that I had never seen before) and wondering what happened to it.  Even worse were letters and diaries from units that I had researched over the years.  I have seen this countless times.

Items  that gets bought like this?  Who knows what might happen to them.  Maybe some get bought by historians or historic sites or museums.  Maybe they get donated to a museum by a private collector.  Or they might be stuck in some rich guy’s mansion where no one gets to examine them except his country club pals, who probably can’t appreciate them that much anyway.    Maybe they will end up in a museum eventually, or maybe they will get squabbled over by heirs decades later.

I can’t help but wonder how much history gets lost or passed over this way.

-Geoff

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2 thoughts on “I think a few Commandments got broken here…”

  1. I know it’s the way of the world, but I hate the idea of historical artefacts being available to a few rich guys and his good buddies and not to humanity at large. The same thing applies to dinosaur fossils and the like.

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