Mesopotamian vase sheds light on Germany's artefacts trade





A legal dispute surrounding an antique golden vase being held in a museum vault in Mainz shines light on the surprisingly important role Germany plays in the often shady world of antiques trading.

The case sounds more like an esoteric crime novel than a simple legal tussle, involving as it does archaeologists, rare-coin dealers, customs officials, and the Iraqi embassy in Berlin.

At its heart is a golden vase just six centimeters high that may or may not have its origins in ancient Mesopotamia.

The vase is currently being held by Michael Mueller-Karpe, an archaeologist at the Roman-Germanic Central Museum in Mainz, Germany. Three years ago he was charged with providing the court with an expert opinion on the provenance of the object, which is at the center of a lawsuit over fencing illegally trafficked goods.


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