Stolen Sarcophagus Recovered

This one’s interesting, given that we were pondering the origins of that sarcophagus in the sea near Antalya t’other day … from the Local:

A Roman sarcophagus, believed to have been excavated illegally from an archaeological site close to Turkey’s Antalya, has been seized by authorities from a Swiss warehouse, a customs official said on Monday.

The marble tomb, bearing carvings depicting the 12 labours of Hercules, dates to 2 AD.

It was found by customs officials who were carrying out inventory checks at Geneva’s tax-free warehouses, said Jean-Marc Renaud, who heads Switzerland’s central customs services, confirming a Swiss television report.

According to Swiss television, Ankara is seeking restitution of the sarcophagus believed to have originated from the Greek-Roman archaeological site of Perge, about 22 kilometres from Antalya.

Swiss customs are currently holding the object, and have brought the case to Geneva prosecutors which opened a probe last year.

Roman Sarcophagus from the Sea

Here’s one that’s been in my box for a while, and there haven’t been any followups, alas … from Hurriyet:

A sarcophagus covered with figures depicting Eros and Medusa and believed to date from the Roman period has been found in the sea near the location of the ancient city of Justinianopolis, in the southern province of Antalya’s Alanya district.

The sarcophagus was retrieved from the water after a six-hour effort and has been delivered to the Alanya Museum Directorate.

Diving school trainer Hakan Güleç spotted an object covered with sand and rocks while diving 20 days ago. When trying to move the object, he saw the figures on it and photographed them. He showed the photos to Alanya Museum officials, and after examining them, they decided to exhibit it. The sarcophagus is estimated to date from the second or third century A.D.

Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum Director Yaşar Yıldız and archaeologists cleared sand and debris from the sarcophagus for six hours, and it was lifted out of the water with the help of a crane. Tourists took photos of the sarcophagus while the work was going on.

“The Alanya Museum has gained a new piece of art. The figures on it show that it dates from the Roman period,” Yıldız said.

The original article has a photo-from-a-distance which really isn’t useful for establishing what scene is depicted on it, although you can see one (or two?) Medusas. In the coverage for the Art Newspaper, Yildiz is quoted as speculating it was made up the coast at Aphrodisias.

What I’d like to have seen is some further speculation as to how it got where it did. Even with six hours of cleaning, it seems awfully clean for something made of marble that has supposedly been in the sea for a couple of thousand years, no? Is there a shipwreck around it? Were other things found in association with it? Or (as I note that someone commenting on the Art Newspaper’s coverage has also suggested) is this probably something that was being smuggled somewhere and dumped overboard for whatever reasons?

Nice of them to mention Justinianopolis, though …

Paris (?) Sarcophagus … and Biblical Archaeology Review

I don’t know why this happens to me so often … I take a break from my news feed to run some errands and then I get a notice via Twitter from the folks at Biblical Archaeology Review pointing me to an article with the headline screaming: Has the Sarcophagus of Paris, Prince of Troy, Been Found? Of course, I’m looking at this on my iPod while sitting in a parking lot somewhere and can’t check things out fast enough. Whatever the case, the coverage at BAR mentions the Balkan Travellers site as a source so, of course, my instincts are that something has simply been lost in translation, as often seems to happen. But no! The summary from BAR (which is simply their daily news page; this item might scroll off) includes this as the incipit:

Archaeological excavations at the ancient city of Parion in northwest Turkey have revealed the sarcophagus of an ancient warrior. The sarcophagus contains an inscription of a warrior pictured saying goodbye to his family as he leaves for war. It is believed that the sarcophagus could belong to Paris, the prince of Troy who triggered the Trojan War.

Here’s the actual Balkan Travellers item … there do seem to be some possible translation problems, but I’ve highlighted an important passage:

A sarcophagus of a warrior was recently discovered during archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Parion, located in Turkey’s north-western province of Canakkale, near Troy.

The sarcophagus was unearthed in the ancient city’s necropolis, Professor Cevat Basaran, head of the excavation team in Parion ancient city in the village of Kemer near the town of Biga, told national media.

According to the archaeologist, the newly found sarcophagus had an inscription of a warrior saying goodbye to his family as he left for a war. The warrior in the inscription, he added, could be Paris who caused the Trojan War.

Parion is among the most important of the dozens of ancient settlements in the region of Troad, in which the city of Troy was the focus. Parion was first found by archaeologists in 2005. Many precious artefacts, including gold crowns and sarcophagi, have been unearthed at the site since, suggesting the city’s importance during the Hellenistic and Roman Age.

via: Archaeologists Unearth Warrior Sarcophagus at Ancient City of Parion, Turkey

That is to say, they’re NOT claiming this sarcophagus BELONGS to PARIS but rather, that it possibly DEPICTS Paris. Now there isn’t a picture of this sarcophagus included but I’m willing to put big bucks on the likelihood that this is actually something Hellenistic/Roman as might be hinted at in the article’s final paragraph … that pretty much nixes the ‘actual sarcophagus of Paris’ possibility right there.  And just so we’re not confining our criticism to BAR,  we should also point out that ‘Paris departing for the Trojan War’ really isn’t a common motif (if I’m wrong, please correct me) — Paris CAUSED the Trojan War by taking that thousand-ships-launching beauty away; I really can’t think of a depiction of the “Bye folks … I’m off to kidnap-Helen-and-give-Homer-something-to-poetize-about” genre …

Whatever the case, the folks at Biblical Archaeology Review really should know better than to describe things as they did … source notwithstanding.

UPDATE (07/19/10): we now note that BAR has made corrections to their text …