Getty Returns Head of Hades

… and we didn’t know it was missing! From a Getty press release (sent directly to me!):

The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today plans to voluntarily return a terracotta head to Sicily representing the god Hades and dating to about 400–300 B.C. The Museum acquired the sculpture in 1985.

Joint research with colleagues in Sicily over the past two years has yielded previously unknown information on the likely provenance of the sculpture suggesting that it was appropriate to return the object. In keeping with the principle of repatriating works when compelling evidence warrants it, the decision to transfer this head is based on the discovery of four terracotta fragments found near Morgantina in Sicily, similar in style and medium to the Getty head. Getty Museum curators initiated discussions with Sicilian colleagues on the possible relationship between the head and the fragments in 2011, and then worked with the director of the Morgantina Archaeological Park to corroborate the identification. These fragments indicate that the original location of the head was the site of a sanctuary of Demeter, which was clandestinely excavated in the late 1970s.

“The Getty greatly values its relationship with our Sicilian colleagues, which culminated in the 2010 Cultural Collaboration Agreement,” said Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This collaboration has brought significant opportunities for scholarly dialogue, joint conservation projects, and loans, most notably the ‘Charioteer’ from Mozia that is currently undergoing a thorough seismic conservation assessment and remounting in our conservation studios.”

According to Enrico Caruso, director of the Parco Archeologico di Morgantina, “Close collaboration with the Getty’s curators and conservators on the examination of the head has allowed us to give a name to the sanctuary shrine where several fragments of its curls of hair were found in 1978, as well as a name to the Getty’s anonymous sculpture. It is Hades, god of the Underworld, the terracotta body of which is in the course of an extensive restoration in the Archaeological Museum in Aidone.”

The head will be transferred to the Museo Archeologico in Aidone after it goes on display in the Getty-organized traveling exhibition Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome. The exhibition will be on view at the Getty Villa from April 3 to August 19, 2013, the Cleveland Museum of Art from September 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014, and will end at the Palazzo Ajutamicristo in Palermo from February to June 2014. The head is currently on view at the Getty Villa as part of the special installation The Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone at Morgantina until January 21, 2013.

See David Gill’s commentary as well:

Erotic Fresco (and Graffiti) From the Colosseum

Kind of surprised this isn’t getting more coverage … via AFP:

Italian archaeologists have found brightly coloured fragments of frescoes depicting heroic and erotic scenes inside a corridor of the Colosseum in Rome, along with samples of ancient graffiti.

“We have found traces of decorations in blue, red and green,” Rossella Rea, director of the 2,000-year-old amphitheatre, told AFP.

The fragments “seem to depict the glory of the gladiator world, with laurels, arrows, victory wreaths and even erotic scenes,” the Repubblica newspaper said.

The frescoes were found in a corridor currently closed to the public while archaeologists were working to restore an area between the second and third floor of the Colosseum, which has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

“We have also found writing dating back to the 17th century as well as the signatures of spectators and foreign visitors” who had come to watch the Colosseum’s famed gladiatorial contests and mock sea battles, Rea said.

“We hope to be able to find other traces in this corridor but that depends on the funds available to continue with the restoration,” she added.

The frescoes are located in an area covering several square feet in a corridor which is around sixty metres long, and should be open to the public by summer 2014, Rea said.

The Colosseum, which was completed in 80 AD by the Roman emperor Titus and is now one of the most visited sites in the world, is in a pitiful state.

Bits of stone, blackened by pollution, have fallen off in previous years, and some experts have voiced concern that the foundations are sinking, giving the amphitheatre a lean.

The number of visitors to the Colosseum, which measures 188 metres (620 feet) by 156 metres and is 48.5 metres high, has increased from a million to around six million a year over the past decade thanks mainly to the blockbuster film “Gladiator”.

… no photos yet … then again, there really isn’t much coverage of this one yet. One would suspect the fresco was to ‘encourage’ the gladiators in regards to what success might bring?

The coverage finally arrived:

Classical Words of the Day

Latinitweets:

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii idus januarias

ante diem iii idus januarias

  • Carmentalia begins (day 1) — a two-day festival (with a three day break between the days) in honour of the deity Carmenta, who was possibly a goddess of both childbirth and prophecy.
  • 49 B.C. — Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon (by another reckoning)
  • ?? B.C. — dedication of the Temple of Juturna in the Campus Martius
  • 29 B.C. — Octavian closes the doors of the Temple of Janus, signifying the Roman world was at peace