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From Author

Harald Meller



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From Photographer

Kenneth Garrett



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Kenneth Garrett


 

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Field Notes From Author
Harald Meller

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    It was terribly exciting to finally hold the sky disk in my hands. I had hunted it for nearly a year and always thought I had no more than a 5 percent chance of finding it. But when I met the man who had it, and he produced it from under his shirt and handed it to me, I could hardly believe my luck. It was really heavy, more than four pounds (two kilograms) and simply beautiful. I was certain that it wasn't a fake.
    At the same time, I was nervous because the police had warned me that this guy could be dangerous. He didn't speak much, and his silence unnerved me. I found out later that he was a teacher, but at the time he looked quite dangerous. We were in the basement café of a tourist hotel, with no one else around. But along with my fear and excitement, the scientific part of my brain had already started wondering about the sky disk: What does it symbolize? Is it a moon or a sun? So I experienced a complex cocktail of emotions, but it was certainly one of the most exciting moments in my life.


    I first saw the sky disk when my colleague showed me some pictures he had taken. I was astonished. I couldn't believe such a disk existed. It was very exciting but also sad to think that such an enormous find had been crudely excavated, not by scientists but by robbers. It was as important as the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, and I couldn't help thinking there was hardly any chance of getting it back since it had already been in the illegal art market for two years.

    For one year we searched for someone who knew about the disk. Finally we got in contact with a woman who later acted as an intermediary between the smugglers and us. When I first went to meet her, I took an undercover policeman. I said he was my colleague at the museum. She brought a lawyer with her, who in turn brought a little terrier named Schroeder with him. The restaurant where we met was full of fake historical displays and looked a bit like a private museum. We were an odd group in an odd setting. 
    Then followed an extremely bizarre conversation: The lawyer stated that archaeologists were really stupid, and lawyers always outsmarted them. Then he compared the negotiation surrounding the disk with a kidnapping, saying, "We have the child. You have the money. It's always a very dangerous moment when the two are exchanged." The whole experience was surreal.


   


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