Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
Source: Google

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

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Paestan lekythos from "an old Swiss collection"

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
Paestan lekythos. Source: Google

One of the pieces seized from an as yet unnamed Manhattan gallery is a Paestan lekythos attributed to the Asteas-Python workshop. It has a stated collecting history:

  • Swiss private collection
  • Royal-Athena Galleries (1987-1988)
  • John Kluge private collection
  • Patricia Kluge private collection, Charlottesville, Virginia (1990-2010)
  • Royal-Athena Galleries: One Thousand Years of Ancient Greek Vases II ... Featuring the Patricia Kluge Collection (2010) no. 164

It would be interesting to learn the name of the anonymous Swiss private collection in which this lekythos once resided. (And note that this information is derived not from Royal-Athena Galleries but from the present vendor.)

We also note the appearance of the Kluge collection.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kantharos from an old Swiss collection

Source: Google
It appears that the kantharos seized from a second Manhattan gallery came from an old Swiss collection.

This appears to have surfaced in Basel in February 1994 and then passed to a New York private collection. It was then being offered by a New York gallery for $8,500.

The District Attorney's office have yet to release the name of the gallery.

I am willing to amend this entry if this collecting history is incorrect or partial.

The kantharos appears to be the one in Royal-Athena Galleries, Art of the Ancient World 28 (2017) no.  105. It formerly resided in the 'J.M.E. collection' in New York.

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Antiquities from a Manhattan gallery

Source: New York County District Attorney's Office
For completeness I note the seizures from a second gallery in Manhattan.

  • a Sardinian bronze ox, 8th century BC, valued at $6,500
  • a Sardinian bronze warrior wearing a helmet and carrying a bow, 8th century BC, valued at approximately $30,000 
  • a Greek bronze Herakles holding the horn of Achelous, 4th-3rd centuries BC, valued at $12,500.
  • an Apulian Xenon kantharos, decorated with the image of two goats butting heads, late 4th century BC, valued at $8,500
  • a Proto-Corinthian oenochoe, decorated with rams and panthers, c. 650 BC, valued at $22,500 
  • a Paestan red-figure lekythos, decorated with a man holding a plate of fruit, c. 340 BC, valued at $9,500

The name of the gallery has not yet been released.

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Intellectual consequences of the Attic red-figured lekythos

Attic red-figured lekythos
Source: New York County District Attorney
The Attic red-figured lekythos that has been seized from a Manhattan gallery is attributed to the group of Palermo 16. Find-spots (and the Beazley Archive now defines this information as "provenance") for such lekythoi include (and this may include "said to be" information):

  • Nola: 2
  • Tarquinia: 1
  • Camarina, Sicily: 1
  • Gela, Sicily: 5
  • Selinus, Sicily: 3

11 further lekythoi do not have a stated findspot. It seems quite possible that the New York lekythos was found at a site on Sicily but we just do not know.

And note the loss of information: 11 out of 23 lekythoi do not have a secure archaeological find-spot. And how many of the 12 with some sort of reported find-spot come from a scientific excavation that has provided contextual information?

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Attic lekythos returned to Italy

The New York County District Attorney's Office has announced that it has seized a number of antiquities from two separate premises and that the items will be returning to Italy "8th century B.C.E. bronze statues among collection of ancient artifacts being repatriated to Italian Republic by Manhattan District Attorney's Office", May 25, 2017, press release]. Six of the items were seized in April from "a gallery in Midtown Manhattan".

The release adds:
This month, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office also seized an additional item pursuant to a search warrant from a different gallery in Midtown Manhattan. The recently recovered artifact is also being returned to the Italian Republic as part of the repatriation ceremony.
The gallery is not named but is reported to be the same one linked to a returned Attic amphora and a sarcophagus fragment.

This lekythos appears to be the one attributed to the Group of Palermo 16 that had once formed part of an old English collection, and then passed into the Kluge collection (itself a collection not without interest to readers of LM). It had passed through a New York gallery that has returned other items to the Italian authorities. The lekythos appears to have first surfaced on the London market.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Floating Culture: unrecorded archaeological finds

Display in Lincoln (c) David Gill
Adam Daubney, the FLO for Lincolnshire, has written on the unrecorded finds that are obtained via metal-detecting ("Floating culture: the unrecorded antiquities of England and Wales", International Journal of Heritage Studies [2017] 1-15 [DOI]). Readers of LM will know that this is a topic that has featured here. Daubney accepts in his opening paragraph: "loss of archaeological knowledge also occurs on an arguably far wider scale through the non-reporting and subsequent sale of legitimately discovered archaeological material, especially in countries such as the U.K. where there is no legal obligation to report certain classes of finds". There has to be an acceptance that under-reporting of finds is a failure of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to engage with the metal-detecting communities ("it has proved impossible to shift the entrenched ideas of some non-reporters, particularly those who were active during the ‘detector wars’ of the 1970s and 1980s ").

I am pleased that Daubney makes this comment in response to my paper (and responses) in the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology that so far appears to have escaped citation by a member of PAS (and he overlooks my main forum paper in preference to my response to the responses): "To this extent we might concede to Gill’s comment that ‘recording antiquities is not the same as protecting archaeological sites’".

But Daubney has been selective. What is his response to the finding of the so-called Crosby-Garrett helmet (even if it was not in Cumbria)? What about the implications of the uncovering of the Lenborough Hoard?

What is needed is a wider debate about the need to protect the fragile archaeological record in England and Wales.

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