Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cultural Diplomacy: have US - Iran relations been compromised?

Suzan Mazur has published an important piece on the silver griffin returned to Iran ("A Fake? America's souvenir to the Iranian people", scoop October 9, 2013). She reports that Oscar White Muscarella, who has published one of the major studies of forged Near Eastern antiquities [see review in AJA: JSTOR], has identified the griffin as "a modern forgery". Muscarella identified the griffin as "a modern Iranian artifact" in a contribution to a series of studies in honour of Massoud Azarnoush (and published in 2012).

Mazur reminds us that the griffin was purchased from the Aboutaams in 2002 for $950,000. It apparently surfaced in Geneva in 1999. The purchaser asked for confirmation of the authentification.

The story has an interesting parallel with the Cleveland Apollo: readers of Mazur's article with recognise that the dealer and the scientific studies overlap to some degree. Does this undermine their authority?

What will the Iranian Government make of this offering?

I am grateful to Suzan Mazur for drawing my attention to her article.

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