Do you think of ancient objects as artwork rather divorced from their cultural context, or as information-impregnated windows into the past? From which paradigm do they obtain their value?
Apparently, although he takes his salary from an art museum which espouses the first, James Cuno* actually believes the latter.
The earliest surviving printed document is known as the Diamond Sutra. It dates to AD 868 and is a Chinese translation of a Sanskrit Buddist text. It was printed using carved wood blocks, and the separate pages were then stitched together. Although it was found in northwest China, the British Library controls it.
Or owns it, depending on your perspective….
* Cuno’s new book is Who Owns Antiquity?