Bulgarian Builder Brouhaha

Kind of surprising that a country so ‘archaeology conscious’ as Bulgaria could have this happen:

Specialists from the Yambol History Museum have prevented the destruction of a valuable archaeological site during road construction in Southeastern Bulgaria.On Monday, employees of the local “Mining Company” started to expand a road running past the Ancient Thrace town of Kabile without a permission from the Tundzha Municipality.

The company also failed to inform the regional history museum of the Yambol District.

As the road construction started, the digging machines destroyed tiles and pottery from the Ancient Thrace settlement within a 50-meter long and several meters wide area along the road in question.

The firm management said it was not aware that it was trying to expand the road through the Kabile Archeaological Reserve. A local resident, however, contacted the Yambol museum, whose director Iliya Iliev reacted immediately.The Yambol Museum is going to refer the case to Bulgaria’s National Institute for Culture Monuments.

The digging machines of the mining company came very close to destroying four graves of Thracian nobles. However, the digging was stopped in time, leaving the graves barely affected.In 341, BC the town of Kabile, a former Neolithic settlement, was founded anew by Philip II of Macedon. It was under the rule of Philip II, Alexander the Great and Lysimachus from 341 BC up to 280 BC, when it came under the control of the Thracian Odrysian kingdom from 280 BC, thus becoming one of the most important cities in Ancient Thrace.

via Bulgaria: Bulgarian Builders Almost Ruin Thrace Archaeology Site | Novinite.com .

More Coverage:

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xi kalendas maias

ante diem xi kalendas maias

  • Parilia (a.k.a. Palilia) — originally a festival in honour of Pales (who protected shepherds and their flock), it eventually evolved — in the city of Rome, at least — into a ‘birthday of Rome’ celebration
  • 753 B.C. — traditional date for the foundation of Rome
  • 43 B.C. — pro-Caesarian forces “under” Octavian defeat the forces of Marcus Antonius at Mutina
  • 47 A.D. — Claudius celebrates the ludi Saeculares (?)
  • 148 A.D. — Antoninus Pius celebrates the 900th anniversary of Rome
  • 248 A.D. — Philip Arabus celebrates the 1000th anniversary of Rome

CONF: KOSMOS conference via the Internet!

Folks on Aegeanet already know this, but the KOSMOS conference — which was adversely affected by that unpronounceable volcano — is going to be made available online for those who have been prevented from attending (and presumably others as well). Here’s something posted to Aegeanet if you’re interested:

Dear colleagues,

You can follow KOSMOS tomorrow, Wednesday at


We start broadcasting Wednesday 21th April 2010 at 13:00-19:00 GMT

Scandinavia and Western Europe 14:00-20:00

Greece 15:00-21:00

Philadelphia 8:00-14:00

Austin 7:00-13:00

Melbourne 22:00-04:00

NB: Thursday and Friday we will start two hours earlier to make room for all the papers which you have sent!!

Summary of Video

Marie-Louise Nosch: Dear Colleagues and dear Aegeanists. We are very sorry that you cannot be with us here in Copenhagen. Fortunately you have been so generous to share your research results and your power points with us. We will now turn the Kosmos Conference into a global event on the internet. From Wednesday we will broadcast you presentations here from the University of Copenhagen. We cannot yet tell you what internet address you must use and how to enter – we will post this information later. Please follow CTR’s homepage (http://ctr.hum.ku.dk/), so you will know how to get access. We are very sorry for this, but on the other hand, this is a great opportunity to try a new way of communication and we hope to see you all another time.

Robert Laffineur: I am very disappointed, as you might imagine, not to be able to have you all with us here in Copenhagen. This is the first time in 30 years of personal activity in Aegean Research, that a conference has to be cancelled. Maybe we should have done as the organisers of car races, who never use no. 13! But it is not a reason to lament and we decided to turn the meeting into the first experience of virtual meeting in our field. Only the papers which have been sent to us will be presented, of course, and consequently there will not be the hundred papers, which we had anticipated, but the audience will be much greater, thanks to the online presentations. I would like to thank all the people who made this possible: Marie-Louise andher collaborators in the CTR, as well as the staff of the Computer Service of University of Copenhagen. Maybe this is the beginning of a new era and maybe Aegean Research has finally entered the 21st Century.

Marie-Louise Nosch: Please join us all on Wednesday when we start the broadcast of the Aegean research on the subject of KOSMOS, Jewellery, Adornment and Textiles. It will start at 13:00 in Greenwich time, 14:00 in Western Europe, 15:00 in Greece, 08:00 in the Philadelphia and 22:00 Wednesday evening in Melbourne.

We miss you and we really hope to see you soon somewhere else in the next year.

Robert Laffineur: Thank you.

[as a side note, I hope other conferences will take note at the logistics etc. of this (all done on very short notice, obviously) and perhaps ponder making conferences and/or sessions similarly available  ... I've been hoping for this for years ...]

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xiii kalendas maias

ante diem xiii kalendas maias

  • ludi Cereri (day 8)– games in honour of the grain goddess Ceres, instituted by/before 202 B.C.
  • Cerealia — the actual date of the Cerealia is uncertain, but it ‘reenacted’ Ceres’ search for her daughter Proserpina, with apparently all participants and spectators dressed in white.
  • 69 A.D. — Vitellius is recognized as emperor by the senate in Rome

… we also note today is the commemoration of an (undated) Roman soldier saint Expeditus

Head of Augustus from Stobi?

A well-preserved, priceless marble head of Octavius Augustus – part of a sculpture from the early Roman period – and a small torso were excavated Friday at Stobi archaeological site, which was visited by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski together with Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska and the director of the Department for Cultural Heritage Protection, Pasko Kuzman.

According to its features, the sculpture was intended to immortalize emperors and notable citizens from the first and second century A.D. It was housed in a temple, which was robbed soon after it was demolished in the classical era. [...]

via MINA Breaking News – Priceless Roman sculpture excavated in Stobi.

Wish that photo was a bit better … it ‘sort of’ looks like a young Augustus …

Roman House from Crotone

The gist: a house with several phases of construction ranging from the 1st/2nd century A.D. down to the 4th/6th with the later phases including bathing facilities. I assume it is the early phases which are decorated in a ‘Pompeii style’ and I have no idea what coccio pesto is (but it sounds tasty). Here’s the salient descriptive bit:

‘E’ un edificio – ha continuato Marino – collocabile tra il I ed il II secolo dopo Cristo, quindi in piena età romana imperiale. Il suo abbandono, invece, è databile dal IV al VI secolo. L’importanza della struttura, si rileva dalla presenza delle terme, ma anche dai marmi rinvenuti, che erano di grande qualità. L’edificio romano – ha precisato ancora il responsabile degli scavi – si estendeva su più livelli, con annesse scale; un altro indice di antichità è dato dal rinvenimento di tratti di opere reticolate. Gli intonaci, poi, erano in stile pompeiano e i pavimenti in coccio pesto’. Per il direttore del museo, inoltre, interessante è anche il sito della struttura, ‘in zona panoramica, di fronte il mare; se fosse un edificio pubblico, le terme sarebbero certamente collegate all’attività del porto.

via A Crotone emerge una Domus Romana di assoluto valore archeologico | Tropea .

UPDATE (a few hours later)… ANSA just came through with some English coverage (although the dating seems rather different):

A luxury complex dating back 2,000 years has emerged from a building site in Crotone, which archaeologists say could cast new light on the southern city’s past.

The remains, discovered in a raised part of the city centre near the port, reveal a multi-storey building that once enjoyed a panoramic view and boasted its own thermal baths. The scale and facilities of the complex are a clear indication the Crotone was a far more sophisticated settlement in ancient times than previously realized, explained Archaeology Museum Director Domenico Marino.

A building of this nature would only have been possible if the surrounding town had extensive and fully functioning drainage, an aqueduct and a cistern, in order to transport the water required to and from the premises “This is a revolutionary discovery for Crotone,” said Marino. “These remains tell us we are dealing with a large-scale Roman city, with buildings and public facilities of a certain significance. “We have made several important finds from Ancient Crotone in the past but this is the first ever discovery of such importance”. Builders were first alerted to the possibility of a big archaeological breakthrough at the end of February, when they discovered some floor fragments, a silo, walls and a tank. They informed the city council, which brought in its own experts to investigate the area more thoroughly.

An initial 30-day search was extended by a further 20 days and it was only towards the end of this second period that archaeologists realized the full scale of the find. So far, they have uncovered sections of marble flooring, Pompeian-style red and black plastered walls, an interior staircase and corridors with mosaic artwork on the floor. They are not yet sure when the complex was built but believe it might have been developed over several centuries, with the oldest part dating back to the 6th century BC and more recent sections to the 1st or 2nd century BC. The building was probably a residential complex but may also have been some kind of public building, said Marino. For now, the construction project on the central city road has been put on hold while archaeologists continue their work, causing traffic hold-ups and chaos for local residents. But Crotone Mayor Peppino Vallone said the value of the discovery meant investigations would continue and, if necessary, the construction might be halted indefinitely. “According to the city’s archaeology department this is an extraordinary find, one that completely changes Crotone’s history,” he said.

via Ancient complex found in Crotone | ANSA

d.m. Samuel M. Paley

Samuel M. Paley, Ph. D, an internationally known archaeologist who frequently took University at Buffalo students on digs in the Middle East, died of brain cancer March 31 in his New York City home. He was 68.

Dr. Paley, who led the most recent excavation last summer, had been on leave from the university since his illness was diagnosed before the current semester.

A professor of classics and head of Judaic studies at UB, he conducted digs in Cyprus, Israel and Turkey for more than four decades. He specialized in interpreting Assyrian reliefs and helped create a digital program that brought to life the Northwest Palace of King Ashur-nasir-pal II.

Born in Manchester, N. H., and raised in Boston, Dr. Paley received his undergraduate degree from New York University and his doctorate from Columbia University. He had a lifelong interest in ancient and modern languages.

He joined the UB classics department 33 years ago and founded the Judaic Studies program in 1992.

Dr. Paley published three books about the Northwest Palace, begining in 1976 with “King of the World: Ashur-nasir-pal II of Assyria (883-859 B. C.)” The series documented the ruins with meticulous descriptive detail and architectural renderings.

Later, in collaboration with architects and virtual reality specialists, he produced the virtual version of the museum, which can be viewed by visiting http://www.learningsites.com/ NWPalace/NWPalhome. html.

Dr. Paley also assessed the palaces of Nimrud and Nineveh for conservation projects during the Iraq War and had recently been a consultant for UNESCO World Heritage sites.

A tireless excavator and fundraiser for his projects, he helped uncover a Hellenistic sanctuary and late Bronze Age remains on the Phlamoudhi plain in Cyprus, and he participated in several digs at Tel Nagilah, Tel Arad and Tel Dan in Israel.

He later became co-director of research on early, middle and late Bronze Age settlements in west-central Israel and was part of two projects that explored 6,000 years of civilization in central Turkey.

“Unwavering in the search for excellence and knowledge,” and an entertaining speaker, Dr. Paley mentored hundreds of students and was deeply respected by scholars around the world, his family said.

He was religious director of Temple Emanu-El in Batavia.

Surviving are his wife, Barbara “Bobbi” Koz Paley; three daughters, Raquel, Michal and Avital Lazar-Paley; a stepson, Jamie Koz; and two brothers, David and Norman.

Services were Friday in Manhattan’s Central Synagogue.

via Samuel M. Paley, noted archaeologist, UB professor | The Buffalo News.

Addendum: Dr Paley is also survived by two sons-in-law and three grandchildren.

Roman pots found off Italy’s coast

Not sure how you stumble underwater but …

Researchers have stumbled upon a collection of rare Roman pots while scouring ship wrecks off the Italian coast of Capo Palinuro, near Policastro.

The British team from the Aberdeen-based Hallin Marine International energy company found hundreds of ancient pots 1,640ft under the sea while trawling modern wrecks for radioactive materials.

Five of the 2,000 year-old vessels were recovered intact and taken to an archaeology museum in the northern Italian city of Paestum, mailonline reported.

“They would have probably been loaded on some kind of merchant ship which sank all those years ago,” said team supervisor Dougie Combe.

“It was a big surprise when we came across the pots as we were looking for modern wrecks from the last 20 years or so,” he added.

“We managed to get five up altogether, but there must have been hundreds of them there.”

via Roman pots found off Italy’s coast | Press TV.

More Coverage:

Harpocrates in ‘Devotion and Ritual’ Exhibition

Statuette en argent représentant Harpocrate, é...
Image via Wikipedia

Nice little feature, but lacking a photo (the one accompanying this post is not the one mentioned in the article):

Today, the Keith and Zara Joseph Collection goes on public display for the first time in the Potter Museum’s classic and archaeology gallery as part of an exhibition called Devotion and Ritual.

Before the exhibition’s opening its curator, Andrew Jamieson, showed some of the works that were, at that point, still stacked away in storage. He donned white gloves, opened the lid of an ordinary-looking box and from it gently removed a bronze statuette of Harpocrates from Alexandria, dated from around the 1st century BC.

“For me this is magnificent,” says Jamieson, “a wonderful example of a Roman bronze miniature statuette. It all comes together in a powerful way to make this a real standout example of Roman culture.

“It portrays all the hallmarks of Roman civilisation.”

Harpocrates was the Greek and Roman god of silence and secrecy but he originated with the Egyptians. After the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, the Greeks merged the Egyptian sun god Horus into their own god, who became known as Harpocrates.

Statuettes of Harpocrates were in demand throughout the Roman Empire when mystery cults and oriental religions became increasingly popular. Because of this popularity, images of Harpocrates were manufactured and mass produced. They were made either from inexpensive mould-made terracotta, suitable for house shrines, or from bronze, becoming in-demand cabinet pieces for wealthy connoisseurs.

“Unlike terracotta, works in bronze were considered luxury arts and they would have been treasured by their wealthy owners,” says Jamieson. “The small bronze statuette of Harpocrates was probably intended for personal use. Very high prices were paid for good specimens, especially when they were the work of well-known craftsmen. The fact precious objects were hoarded by the Roman elite accounts for their survival, in something like their original condition.”

According to Jamieson, in Egyptian representations of Harpocrates the god is often presented as a naked boy with his finger on or near his mouth, which indicates childhood. But the Greeks and Romans misunderstood this gesture and made Harpocrates the god of silence and secrecy.

Jamieson points out that Harpocrates is depicted as the child of the Egyptian gods Isis and Horus. Harpocrates is wearing a crown: the crown of the unification of upper and lower Egypt. In his left hand is a cornucopia, a symbol of abundance and plenty. His right hand is raised, with the finger pointing towards his cheek or lips.

“During the classical period and into ancient Rome, the deity of Harpocrates enjoyed a resurgence of interest, along with the cult of Isis,” says Jamieson. “So this is a really wonderful work in that we can learn so much about that time from the one figure.”

via Public Works: Bronze statuette of Harpocrates | The Australian.

Walkers Damaging Hadrian’s Wall

The incipit of an item at the BBC:

National Trails, which manages the 84-mile walking route that follows the Roman wall, has raised concerns about damage to the World Heritage Site.

The organisation said too many people were walking on the wall while some had broken off masonry as souvenirs.

However, it stressed that the majority of visitors treated the wall with respect.

David McGlade, Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trial Manager, said people should enjoy their visit, but also help look after the site.

He said: “Unfortunately there are still people who want to walk on top of the wall.

“They’re probably thinking in their own mind that they are walking in the steps of the Romans, but we would prefer they didn’t do that.”

A few people have been seen breaking pieces of the wall, he added.

“That’s really strictly against the law. It’s Hadrian’s Wall – it’s a scheduled ancient monument and that is a reportable offence.”

via BBC News – Walkers urged not to damage Hadrian’s Wall.

Citanda: Attendance at Greek Museums Way UP

An excerpt:

Here is the list of the 10 most visited sites in Greece in 2009:

1. Athens Acropolis 1,087,889 visitors +1.6%

2. Knossos (Crete) 588,996 -3.5%

3. Lindos Acropolis 444,921 -2.5%

4. Olympia (Peloponnese) 328,697 -7.6%

5. Epidaurus (Peloponnese) 263,000 -9.3%

6. Mycenae (Peloponnese) 238,615 -17.6%

7. Delphi (central Greece) 157,270 -23.6%

8. Sounion (Attica) 144,101 -6%

9. Camiros (Rhodes) 126,400 -1.9%

10. Corinth (Peloponnese) 113,602 -3.8%

Greece museum visitors increase by 40 percent | AFP.

Cashing in on Tios’ Theatre?

Location map for Zonguldak.
Image via Wikipedia

[We're testing the utility of Zemanta with this post]

An ancient theater, uncovered through archeological excavations in the Black Sea region’s Zonguldak province, is hoped to increase tourism to the area.

Turkey’s Black Sea region is home to various shades and tones of the color green and attracts travelers with its archeological wonders.

However, it has only one ancient theater in the ancient city of Tios in the northern province of Zonguldak. The ancient city of Tios, located in Filyos, in Zonguldak’s Çaycuma district, is believed to have been founded by Miletians in the seventh century B.C.

Many historians believe the ancient site was named after a priest named Tios. However, Strabon indicates that this city was inhabited by a tribe named Kaukan and was called Tieion. The region was inhabited throughout the centuries by Persians, Romans, the Genoese and the Ottomans.There is little information about the archaeological history of the city both in ancient records and in the contemporary body of archaeological research. The visible remains of the city are the coastal defense walls, the aqueduct, the amphitheater, the defense tower and the port with its breakwater.

Archeologist Sümer Atasoy said an ancient theater in Filyos will be uncovered as a result of archeological excavation. Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Atasoy noted that an excavation team comprising six faculty members, three restoration architects, two ceramics experts, two epigraphy experts, two geophysicists and 20 students from Trakya University’s department of archeology, directed by Professor Atasoy, is carrying out the archeological studies in Tios. The excavation is being undertaken by Atasoy at the request of Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay. Following a survey of the area and geo-radar and geo-electric studies, this year’s excavations will focus on the castle, amphitheater and bath with an eye to reveal the architectural components of the temple and bath.

After the team completes its excavation, the ancient theater will be restored, said Atasoy, who is also a lecturer in Trakya University’s department of archeology.

Furthermore, an old health center in the town will be transformed into a small house where the excavation team will stay, hold meetings and carry out its work. “When we conduct our excavation at the ancient theater, some 25 students and 30 others will have many responsibilities. In earlier times, we generally had to rent a building, which was very expensive for us. We expect to carry out more excavations, involving many archeologists, in the years to come. Therefore, building a house will be to our advantage,” Atasoy said.

The first archaeological excavation in Tios began in 2006. Shreds of pottery recovered from the excavation site which dates back to the seventh century B.C. will be displayed in a museum in Ereğli once the scientific studies involving them are concluded.

The acropolis of the ancient city is located immediately to the east of the present day Filyos on a hill with a steep slope. The original architectural form of the defensive wall located on the acropolis will be revealed after research on its foundation is completed. Another ruin in the acropolis is a partially destroyed stone building.

Excavations in the ancient city of Tios has been continuing and hope to illuminate the history of the Black Sea region and Asia.

via Black Sea’s single ancient theater to draw in tourism | Today’s Zaman.

Pondering Marathon Origins

The incipit:

If Monday’s famed 26.2-mile Boston Marathon seems brutal, consider the true plight of Pheidippides, the legendary messenger whose reputed exploits and legacy have been traced from the plains of Greece to Hopkinton’s Town Common.

Entering the popular imagination centuries afterward through a series of accounts, Pheidippides supposedly ran roughly 25 miles to spread word of a historic and decisive Athenian upset of Persian forces in 490 B.C., collapsing and dying in the fledgling city-state after delivering his message.

But drawing on the work of the chronicler Herodotus, who interviewed surviving Battle of Marathon soldiers and their sons and never mentioned the messenger run, Columbia University professor Richard Billows believes Pheidippides really ran 140 miles over two days to request pre-battle Spartan help, then ran back.

“He was not the kind of guy who would keel over after a mere 26 miles,” said Billows, who straightens students out each fall in his class on ancient Greece. “What actually happened is much more impressive.”

But for whatever reason an inadvertent conflation of events, a deliberate romanticizing of history the image of Pheidippides’ noble victory run has become inextricably intertwined with marathoning and with a battle that had nothing less at stake than the future of Western civilization.

Still outmatched two-to-one after Persian leaders split their forces, the bronze-clad Greeks used a combination of superior equipment, timing and strategy to defeat their foes.

After the Athenians won at Marathon, they quickly marched 25 miles to protect Athens itself from a separate Persian invasion from the sea. The Persians took one look and never bothered to land.

The Persians had not suffered a serious loss leading up to the fight, emptying villages of vanquished enemies and resettling them within the empire. In his coming book, “Marathon: How One Battle Changed Western Civilization,” Billows describes the consequences had that record remained intact. [...]

via The original marathon and its connection to Hopkinton | The MetroWest Daily News.

For those of you wondering, there is definitely some confusion of sources going on, it seems … ages ago we had a discussion on the Classics list on this very matter

Also Seen: Ancient Facebook?

The incipit of an item in the Courier Mail:

FACEBOOK and Twitter may have a healing power once harnessed by ancient Greek philosophers, according to a new Queensland study.

PhD student Theresa Sauter, from the Queensland University of Technology, is examining how social-networking websites help people form their own identity.

“Social-networking sites, blogs, online discussion forums and online journals represent modern arenas for individuals to write themselves into being,” Ms Sauter said.

“A lot of people see social networking as a new way for people to interact but I’m interested in examining it as a way to form an identity and understand ourselves.”

Ms Sauter’s research will focus on the history and benefits of writing about oneself.

“The ancient Greek philosophers used a reflective notebook to write down what they had read and their thoughts on it,” she said.

via Facebook a new-age take on ancient lore | Courier Mail.

Really? Can’t recall a mention of a ‘reflective notebook’ myself …

Athenian Plague Victim Facial Reconstruction

As far as I’m aware, this item has only appeared in a Greek newspaper and only came to my attention via a post on the Classics list by Lampros Kallenos. I find it interesting on a couple of levels, not least of which is the fact that the discovery of cemetery in which this young victim of Athens’ plague was found is what basically launched most of my online activities in regards to disseminating news coverage of things of interest to Classicists and Classical archaeologists.

I won’t lay claim to being able to read modern Greek with any suitable degree of authority, but the Google translate feature gives a reasonable gist … essentially the skull of an 11-year-old girl, dubbed ‘Myrtis’ (because of the stage her teeth were at when she died), was found back in 1994 with suitable preservation for a facial reconstruction. Microsoft funded the research of Manolis J. Papagrigorakis et al and the results were revealed last week (why did it take so long?). There will be an associated exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Athens and it will be going ‘on the road’ later …

Arts of Rome’s Provinces Project @ Brown

The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World was recently awarded an $180,000 grant from the Getty Foundation to begin work on an international project titled “The Arts of Rome’s Provinces.”

The grant is intended to develop an “international conversation about art history,” said Natalie Kampen, visiting professor of Roman archaeology and art, who will lead the project with Susan Alcock, professor of classics and director of the Joukowsky Institute.

But Kampen said she and Alcock are “not teachers in any way.” They will be “facilitators” who will bring together groups of professionals that may not have encountered each other otherwise, she said.

Twenty people with terminal degrees will be chosen to be a part of the project, Kampen said. “There is a wide spectrum of people who could conceivably be involved in this.”

She and Alcock will send invitations to experts in the discipline of art history and related fields — to scholars at universities, museums and professional organizations throughout the world — to apply to participate. Alcock, Kampen and a small international committee will choose the fellows.

Because art history is studied differently in each part of the world, the project will aim to “figure out how these different kinds of art histories can benefit each other,” Kampen said.

Local traditions will lend a new perspective to the subject, she added.

“What we’re proposing is to do our project in two separate countries and in each country at several different sites,” Kampen said. She called the project a “movable feast” because the fellows will study Roman art history and archaeology in both Greece and England.

The foundation approached Kampen and Alcock several years ago and asked if they would form a project to internationalize art history and apply for the grant. “As a 1976 Ph.D. from Brown, I knew I wanted to bring the grant back to Brown to say thank you,” said Kampen, who is a professor of women’s studies and art history at Barnard College.

She and Alcock planned a project that “nobody had ever done before,” Kampen said.

Though she is excited for the work to begin, she said she is nervous about organizing such a large project.

Kampen said she has been asking the question, “Why is art produced in different parts of the Roman empire different?,” for her entire career. Now, with tools and insights that the other fellows will contribute, she said she hopes not only to “find answers” but also to “figure out interesting ways to ask questions.”

Being able to work on the project is “one of these great opportunities that you never think you’ll get,” Kampen said.

via – Art historians dig into ‘movable feast’ | The Brown Daily Herald.

Robin Symes Fallout

This one doesn’t seem to have received as much coverage as I thought it would … from the CBC:

Italian authorities and antiquities experts are upset the British government is allowing the sale of about 1,000 artifacts allegedly stolen from Italy in order to pay the debts of a bankrupt collector.

The items are from the collection of Robin Symes, a U.K. dealer who has been linked to a smuggling ring. Symes built up a massive business selling antiquities to major institutions around the world including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The Italian authorities charged Marion True, former curator at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, with dealing in stolen antiquities. She is still facing those charges. The Getty has returned more than three dozen items to Italy.

The far-reaching investigation into the sale of looted items is ongoing and Symes is still under scrutiny by Italian officials.

Symes went bankrupt in 2005 after a legal dispute with the family of his late business partner.

The British government has given the green light for the sale of Symes’s collection which includes Roman bronzes, Etruscan gold, amber necklaces, ancient statues and other valuable pieces. The sale will be handled by liquidators acting for the U.K. government, which is trying to recoup unpaid taxes from Symes.

According to The Guardian newspaper, Paolo Giorgio Ferri, the main prosecutor in Rome, has repeatedly asked Britain to return the antiquities to their “rightful owner.”

Meanwhile, the Home Office — the department handling foreign affairs — has responded by asking the Italian government for details on how those antiquities arrived in Britain.

Colin Renfrew, a professor of archeology at Cambridge University, calls the situation a “scandal.”

“Many of the antiquities are Etruscan and could only have been found in Italy, ” Renfrew told The Guardian. “They left Italy illegally because they would require an export licence. I can’t see how the Home Office can dispute that.”

Sale of the collection is expected to raise more than £100,000 ($155,000). There’s no word yet on when the sale is to take place.

via Italy angered by U.K. antiquities sale | CBC.

See also: