Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gold Vessel from Ur Returns to Iraq

The colored saga of the gold vessel, allegedly looted from Ur, that was spotted for sale at Münzhandlung Hirsch Nachfolger and seized has been discussed here before: "The Curious Case of a Gold Vessel from Ur," "Future of Gold Vessel from Ur (or Troy?) Remains Uncertain," Video about the Gold Vessel and Antiquities Trading in Germany."

After being taken by German authorities, it was handed over to Michael Müller-Karpe in Mainz for analysis. Müller-Karpe is a a leading expert on Mesopotamian metalwork. He concluded it was of Iraqi origin and unlikely to have come from Troy, the provenance claimed by the auction house. He believed it more likely would have been deposited in a royal grave at Ur.

After a delay (discussed in the previous posts), Müller-Karpe and his institution returned the vessel to German authorities though the Iraqis feared the German government would allow the sale of this allegedly stolen object.

It has recently been reported that the Iraqis have successfully blocked the sale of the gold vessel and that it has returned to Iraq (S. Adel, "Iraq blocks sale of Mesopotamian artifacts in German auction," Azzaman News, 14 October 2009) . Since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Iraqis have successfully blocked the sale of 28 suspect items in Germany.

For two other German interviews with the Iraqi ambassador about Iraq's efforts to reclaim materials appearing in the German marketplace see:

"Raubgut. 'Stärkerer Einsatz der Bundesregierung'," Der Spiegel 42 (2009), p. 117.

M. Döring, "Ein Verbrechen gegen die Menschheit," Berliner Zeitung (7 October 2009)

(Photo from Deutsche Welle)