Archaeology Magazine

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Court Rules Assyrian Tablet Belongs to German Museum

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Assyrian Gold TabletALBANY, NEW YORK—New York’s Court of Appeals has unanimously agreed that a small, 3,000-year-old Assyrian gold tablet must be returned to Berlin’s Vorderasiatisches Museum. The tablet, excavated from northern Iraq by German archaeologists, went on display in 1934, but disappeared at an unknown time after the start of World War II. Holocaust survivor Riven Flamenbaum claimed to have traded cigarettes for the tablet with a Russian soldier. “The ‘spoils of war’ theory proffered by the estate—that the Russian government, when it invaded Germany, gained title to the museum’s property as a spoil of war, and then transferred that title to the decedent—is rejected,” read a memorandum from the court.