Berlin museum seeks return of ancient gold tablet
|The ancient gold tablet worth around 10 million dollars was removed from Iraq|
by archaeologists in 1934 [Credit: Andrew Theodorakis]
Riven Flamenbaum, who died in 2003, brought it to the US after surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp and settling on Long Island. Family lore says he had traded two packs of cigarettes to a Russian soldier for the tablet after he was rescued from Auschwitz.
"Part of the problem was that since the museum waited until after he died to make a claim, I have not heard testimony in court as to how he got it," said Steven Schlesinger, representing the estate. "Anything the heirs can say would have been hearsay."
Schlesinger said he believes Flamenbaum was trading Red Cross packages and anything else he could get for silver and gold.
The tablet now sits in a safe deposit box in New York. One recent estimate put its value at $10m, he said. The family wants to donate it to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, Schlesinger said.
The Court of Appeals will decide whether the Vorderasiatisches Museum, part of the renowned Pergamon Museum, waited too long - more than 60 years - before trying to reclaim it. A judge on Long Island said it had unreasonably delayed, but a mid level court last year ruled the other way.
|A US judge ruled that the ancient gold tablet belongs to holocaust|
survivor Reuven Flamenbaum [Credit: Andrew Theodorakis]
The original judge erroneously thought the museum knew in 1954 the tablet was in New York and didn't pursue it, while the mid level court concluded it didn't know until 2006, when its claim was pursued, he said.
According to court documents, the tablet dates to 1243 to 1207 BC, during the reign of King Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria. Placed in the foundation of the temple of the fertility goddess, its 21 lines call on those who find the temple to honour the king's name.
The tablet was excavated by German archaeologists from about 1908 to 1914 in what was then the Ottoman Empire, with Germany giving half the found antiquities to Istanbul, Dowd said. The modern state of Iraq has declined to claim it, he said.
In 1945, the Berlin museum's premises was overrun, with many items taken by Russia, others by German troops and some pilfered by people who took shelter in the museum, Dowd said. The museum director was not in a position to say who took it, only that it disappeared.
Source: The Associated Press [October 14, 2013]
Labels Ancient, ArchaeoHeritage, Archaeology, Breakingnews, Europe, Germany, Heritage, Iraq, More Stuff, USA, Western Europe