In my last blog, I mentioned antiquities discovered in Samarra that became the centre of a dispute between museums in England and the Mesopotamian authorities. At the same time, Britain was also squabbling over other Mesopotamian antiquities, unearthed by German archaeologist Walter Andrae and his team in Assur, in what is now Northern Iraq. The story of these antiquities, which took 12 years to reach Berlin from Basra, is a rather convoluted one.
When the excavations stopped in 1914, and as the Ottoman authorities had agreed to a division of the finds, Andrae packed about 700 boxes and set for Baghdad where the final division was to take place. Some artefacts were transferred to Constantinople and the remaining 448 boxes were loaded on board SS Cheruskia, supposed to take them to Hamburg, then Berlin, from Basra.