Antiquities and Archaeology Market United Kingdom

Assyrian stele withdrawn from auction

Experts concerned that it may have been illicitly removed from Syria

Bonhams pulled the black basalt monument from the sale “for further study”

The Assyrian stele was withdrawn from auction at Bonhams in London on 31 March, four days after we reported that experts had been concerned that it may have been illicitly excavated or exported from Syria. A spokesman told us that the withdrawal was “for further study”, but he remained “hopeful that the stele will be offered at one of our future sales”. With an estimate of £600,000 to £800,000, the stele would have been by far the most valuable object in the 3 April auction.

The spot at Tell Sheikh Hamad where the monument had originally stood was looted on the night of 14-15 September 1999, although the stele could have been removed earlier. The Geneva-based seller maintains that he received it from his father in the 1960s. Following its appearance in the Bonhams catalogue, concerned archaeologists have reported the matter to the police forces of the UK, Germany and the US, as well as to Interpol and Unesco.

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