Thursday, June 12, 2014

Masters of Fire

The New York Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) is hosting an exhibition, Masters of Fire: Copper Age Art from Israel (February-June 2014). It is accompanied by a catalogue edited by Michael Sebbane, Osnat Misch-Brandl, and Daniel M. Master (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014). The 157 exhibits are on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel Museum, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Katzrin Museum and Tel Aviv University. There are seven explanatory essays (with critical apparatus) by Daniel M. Master, Thomas E. Levy, Dina Shalem, Osnat Misch-Brandl, Yorke M. Rowan, Michael Sebbane, and Orit Shamir.

As Roger S. Bagnall reminds us the Nahal Mishmar hoard lies at the heart of the exhibition. Material from excavated and recorded contexts are vital for the interpretation of this period of the Middle East. Associated finds build up a richer picture of society and how it developed.

Among the financial sponsors of the exhibition and this catalogue are individuals who appear to have been associated with recently surfaced antiquities such as the gold phiale returned to Sicily, and the cuneiform tablets returned from Cornell to Iraq. It is good that an exhibition like this can encourage those benefactors to move their interests from collecting to the public display and interpretation of archaeological finds.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Coins Matter for the CCPIA


Coins matter for the archaeological record. But now US Representatives Charles Rangel and Steve Israel are considering a change to legislation to exempt coins from the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (CCPIA). This act implements the US ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

Charles Rangel and Steve Israel seem to think that ancient coins are somehow different from other types of archaeological material. Perhaps they need to reflect on the issues surrounding coins from Cyprus, Ptomelaic coins from the Peloponnese, or looting in Bulgaria. There are some misleading claims put around by a certain Washington lobbyist.

Rangel and Israel could also read some views by numismatist Professor Nathan Elkins, and the legal issues by attorney Rick St Hilaire.

If readers of LM do not wish to exempt coins from CCPIA, then they should sign the petition.

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Terminology and Cycladic figures

I have been working on a review article relating to attributions for Cycladic figures. I observe that not all have realised that the terminology has changed.

The 2007 handbook to the Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art illustrates the "Namepiece of the Bastis Master". By 2012 the curatorial staff had recognised that this was now attributed to the "Bastis Sculptor" (Checklist, no. 4).[1] The 2010 Handbook of the Antiquities Collection at the J. Paul Getty Museum contains a colour photograph of the "Name-piece of the Steiner Master" (Checklist, no. 6).[2] This is all the more surprising in that the 2002 Silent Witnesses exhibition included the figure with the attribution to the "Steiner Sculptor". And in December 9, 2010, Christie's New York auctioned a figure attributed to "the Schuster Master" for $16,882,500 (lot 88; Checklist, no. 2). This had originally formed part of the Marion Schuster collector, but Getz-Gentle does not add that its later collecting history included Robin Symes and Phoenix Ancient Art. There is no clarification of the report in the New York Times that the figure was allegedly sold by Michael Steinhardt.[3]

References

1. Carlos A. Picón, J. R. Mertens, E. J. Milleker, C. S. Lightfoot, and S. Hemingway, Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007), 33, 410, no. 6; Seán Hemingway, "Art of the Aegean Bronze Age", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 69 (2012), 19, fig. 27.

2. J. Paul Getty Museum, Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), 7.

3. Carol Vogel, "Potential Titian Buyers Get an Advance Look", New York Times October 28, 2010. Steinhardt was linked to the gold phiale returned to Sicily in 2000.


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Monday, June 9, 2014

Will the Michael C. Carlos Museum be returning the Minoan larnax?

Composite picture showing the Minoan larnax
in the Michael C. Carlos Museum (right)
and image from one of the seized photographic archives.
Last week's news that Karlsruhe returned two Cycladic objects acquired in the 1970s to Greece is likely to place increased pressure on the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. It is some seven years since the Greek Government made a request for three items acquired in recent years. One of the three items is a Minoan larnax that is clearly recognisable in the paperwork of one of the seized photographic archives.

Will the museum continue to ignore the Greek claim? What is the professional response from the curatorial staff?

And what about the larnax in Houston?

I am grateful to Dr Christos Tsirogiannis for information about this larnax.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Fano Athlete: Decision On Hold

The Fano Athlete
It appears that the legal process to decide on Italian claims to the Fano Athlete has been put on hold (LA Times). Yet one of the issues to emerge (via Jason Felch) back in January 2010 was the due diligence process undertaken (or not) by the J. Paul Getty Museum.

It would be interesting for the Getty to release the documents to show how the curatorial team at the museum responded to concerns voiced by Dietrich von Bothmer and Thomas Hoving.

For some of the earlier issues relating to the statue see here.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Karlsrhe and the Returning Cycladic Figure

Cycladic figure returned from Karlsruhe.
Source: Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
The marble figure returned from Karlsruhe to Greece can be identified as:

  • Marble figure, Early Spedos type. Inv. 75/49. Findspot: "unknown". ACC no. 151. H. 88.8 cm.

It is one of three figures attributed to the Karlsruhe/Woodner Sculptor by Pat Getz-Gentle (Personal Styles, Checklist no. 2). The other two figures attributed to this sculptor do not come from secure archaeological contexts. One formed part of the Goulandris collection (no. 724; "Keros, in a cave"; Doumas, Early Cycladic Culture no. 222, "Possible provenance Keros"), and the other is in the Harmon collection (NAC no. 39; Keros Hoard no. 170) reportedly from the Keros Haul.

Is this one of the "sculptors" who could fall into the "inadequate" category because of the lack of secure information?


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Karlruhe Returns Cycladic Objects

Cycladic figure returned to Greece from Karlsruhe.
Source: Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
Karlsruhe returned two Cycladic objects today: a Spedos marble female figure, and a ceramic 'frying pan' (Press release, Greek). Both were acquired in the 1970s. The objects will be displayed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

This is a visual reminder of the major looting of Cycladic cemeteries especially since the Second World War. Only a tiny percentage of the figures in the corpus have secure archaeological contexts.

It is significant that Greece is once again seeking to repatriate material.

Will the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University be responding to requests to return their three items identified from the seized photographic archives?

Cycladic 'frying-pan' returned from Karlsruhe.
Source: Hellenic Ministry of Culture.


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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Karlsruhe to return Cycladic material to Greece

The Badisches Landesmuseum in Karlsruhe will be returning two Cycladic objects, a figure and a bowl, to Greece, The ceremony is apparently due to take place in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens tomorrow, Friday June 6, 2014.

The claim was first made in October 2011.

If this return is confirmed, it will hint that the Badisches Landesmuseum has now accepted that it was buying recently surfaced material.

News story here (Επαναπατρισμός αρχαιοτήτων από τη Γερμανία).

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