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While I was searching for information about the Tesseract for this question, I read something I forgot about the Captain America: The First Avenger movie in the Cosmic Cube wikipedia article:

During World War II, Johann Schmidt captures the cube in Tønsberg, Norway, claiming that it is "the jewel of Odin's treasure room".

Why did Odin leave something as powerful as the Tesseract, one of the most powerful artifacts in the universe, in a relatively unprotected treasure room in a remote world like Earth? Why didn't he take it back to Asgard where he could keep an eye on it?

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Just a guess, but possibly to hide it? An enemy of the Asgard likely would not expect Thor to hide so powerful an artifact in such an out of the way and undefended location. –  Xantec Jun 1 '12 at 13:30
    
@Xantec What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Waning: tvtropes link) –  DavRob60 Jun 1 '12 at 13:36
    
@Xantec But he's got the Infinity Gauntlet on display, which is just as poweful if not more. –  MPelletier Jun 1 '12 at 13:56
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@DavRob60 "keep an eye on it?" - I see what you did there. I'd +1 just for that if I hadn't already. –  MPelletier Jun 1 '12 at 13:57
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

According to Keen's answer on "How did Tesseract come to Earth from Asgard?", the Tesseract was lost during the war between the Asgardians and the Frost Giants that took place on Earth, and it was later found by humans and hidden away in Norway.

I did not spot any visual of the Tesseract in the Frost Giants war scene of Thor, or during the whole film except for the post credit scene. However, this war provides a reason for Odin to bring the Tesseract to earth and it's loss during the war explains why it remained on earth, which is a plausible explanation.

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