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Dutch Supreme Court orders museum artifacts borrowed from Crimea be returned to Ukraine

By: Alyssa Hong

On Friday, June 9th, the Netherlands Supreme Court ordered the Allard Pierson Museum's historical trove of treasure from Crimea to be returned to Crimea, stating that over 300 of the museum's artifacts were a part of Ukraine's cultural heritage.

The assortment of artifacts, with some as old as 2,000 years old, could be seen at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam. Both the Ukrainian government in Kyiv and four Crimean museums that had loaned precious gems, golden helmets, swords, and other artifacts demanded that the artifacts be returned.

The Amsterdam Museum had instead decided to store the objects until the Court could decide what would happen to the artifacts. The quarrel ended with the Hague-based Supreme Court ordering the display of artifacts to be returned to Ukraine.

The exhibition Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea included a solid gold Scythian helmet from the 4th century B.C. and a golden neck ornament, which is a stiff, necklace-like accessory from the second century A.D. that weighs more than two pounds. In 2016, the District Court of Amsterdam cited the 1970 UNESCO convention, stating the objects must be returned to the sovereign state that loaned them and the issue of ownership will be decided by a Ukrainian court. The Crimean museums appealed and Russia threatened to stop lending objects to Dutch museums if the museum didn’t return the pieces. In 2021, an appeals court once again ordered the objects to be sent back to Ukraine. The date of the transactions is unclear, but it has been made official that the objects will be returned.

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