Monday, 13 July 2009

Gold vessel from Ur - or is that Troy?

I have been following the case of the gold vessel that is said to have surfaced at Münzenhandlung Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger of Munich, Germany during 2005. The piece was seized by the German authorities who asked Michael Müller-Karpe of the Römisch-Germanische Zentralmuseum in Mainz, a leading expert on metalwork from Iraq, to study it. Among Müller-Karpe's publications is his Metallgefäße im Iraq 1 (Stuttgart 1993).

Müller-Karpe concluded that the piece was similar to objects found in the royal cemetery at Ur. There is the possibility that the gold vessel had been looted subsequent to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The gold object remains with Müller-Karpe at the request of the cultural attaché at the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin. Dieter Peulen of the German customs would like it to be returned.

The piece has been discussed by both Nathan Elkins and Paul Barford.

But there are further questions to ask.

Who consigned the gold vessel to the Munich coin-dealer?

What is the basis for the dealer suggesting that the vessel came from Troy?

I also observe that the coin-dealer is a member of the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN). This organisation, based in Brussels, is one of three bodies involved in a legal suit against the US Department of State over the import of antiquities to the USA.


Cultural Property Observer said...

I'm not sure what IAPN's participation in a FOIA lawsuit in the United States related to Cypriot and Chinese coins has to do with this dispute involving a German member and an artifact allegedly from Iraq. For a more pertinent analysis, see: It is indeed revealing that Muller-Karpe apparently feels a greater obligation to Iraqi cultural affairs officials than his own country's police force.

David Gill said...

Thank you for your comment. You will need to ask Müller-Karpe about his decisions.
Would you like to comment on why an IAPN member was handling a piece of gold allegedly from Iraq - or possibly from Turkey if the dealer is to be believed?
Best wishes

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