Christie's New York: Neo-Assyrian Earrings

Christie's was selling this pair of earrings on the 9th:

Lot Description
A PAIR OF NEO-ASSYRIAN GOLD EARRINGS CIRCA 8TH-7TH CENTURY B.C. Each boat-shaped with a high-arching ear wire, bound at each end with spiral wire and embellished with opposing triangles of fine granulation, the lower edge with applied loops each supporting a conical pendant, the upper edges of each with filigree and triangles of granulation1½ in. (3.8 cm.) long (2)
Acquired by the previous owner prior to 1969.
Lot Notes
For a similar pair from a royal tomb at Nimrud see Damerji and Kamil, Gräber assyrischer Königinnen aus Nimrud, p. 59, pl. 11.

But then ....
Iraq bids to stop Christie's sale of ancient earrings - Christian Science Monitor:
"I am 100 percent sure they are from the same tombs from Nimrud,” says Donny George, the former director of the Iraq Museum and now a professor of archaeology at Stony Brook University in New York. “Nothing of this nature has been excavated from it before – I witnessed the excavation. I would say it is 100 percent from there.”
So today the Christie's web site was updated:
Saleroom Notice
Please note this lot has been withdrawn.
I'm torn when I read these sorts of stories. I think that every care should be taken NOT to sell looted or stolen antiquities and if there is any doubt, lots should be withdrawn and investigated. However, accusations of looting seem to be being made too easily these days, with no care that they might be libellous, and this is one area in which people are now guilty until proven innocent. This tactic - accuse an auction house - was used against Bonhams earlier in the fall, and 'burnt' many antiquities.

In this case ... well Dr. George is in a position where he has set himself up as the leading authority on Iraqi archaeology, so if he says the piece is dodgy people have to listen. I've looked through the photos I have of some of the Nimrud gold, and although the style is similar I frankly don't see why earrings made in roughly the same period and in the same region automatically come from Nimrud. I hope that Dr. George comes up with some proof to support his theory.

Interestingly much of the material from Nimrud, particularly the ivories, were very badly damaged whilst in Baghdad Museum (director at the time: Donny George).

Last month I emailed a dealer about a sculpture he had. I was almost 100% sure that I had been shown the same sculpture in the spring of 2001 in London ... after chatting and being given more information, I turned out to be wrong.
In the spring I went to a presentation at the British Academy on the looting of Kabul Museum. The professor showed us old black and white photos of pieces he claimed had been destroyed by the Taliban, and photos of other pieces he claimed had been stolen and would show up on the antiquities market. When I got home I emailed him digital color photos of the items in question, taken last year in Kabul.
Even the best scholars make mistakes. We have to be careful who we smear though, since the press rarely gives as much coverage to 'whoops I was wrong' stories as they do to looting ones.

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