Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Germany does the right thing, now to find out what happened

The gold vessel that was being sold as from "Troy" by Münzhandlung Hirsch Nachfolger a German coin (sic) dealer has been handed over to Iraq by German authorities after a court case and the insistence of Michaeł Muller-Karpe that it could not have come from Troy but was Mesopotamian, and probably from the Royal Graves at Ur (see Nathan Elkins' post with links to more material on this).

While the object is back to where it should never have left, this should by no means be the end of the matter, this is not at all about "restitution". Let us hope investigations are still underway to determine where Münzhandlung Hirsch Nachfolger got this object from, and who is responsible for taking it out of the source country to Germany and giving it a false provenance and ultimately those responsible for looting a site the rank of the (if Muller Karpe is right) Royal Cemetery in Ur and selling the finds. What else have they dug up there and where is it? This has nothing to do (pace Sayles) with "cultural property nationalism" (sic) and persecuting gentleman antiquity dealers engaged in a harmless 'licit trade', this is about catching the lawbreakers and law-benders that get the trade as a whole a very bad reputation. I am assuming that any dealers through whose hands that object passed kept records of their due diligence processes and are helping the investigations fully. Where the buck stops should be a jail sentence.

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