Fehlmann cites three collections:
- Giabra Pierides
98.4% of the objects in the Severis-Coll., 98.6% in the Giabra-Pierides and 37.7% in the Zintilis-Coll. have no provenance or previous owner at all.
Compare this with the 92% in one North American private collection of antiquities studied by David Gill and Christopher Chippindale.
What are these three collections?
1. Leto Lymbouridou-Severis of Nicosia. The collection is said to number around 1900 pieces of which 257 featured in the catalogue: V. Karageorghis, Ancient Cypriote Art in the Severis Collection (Nicosia 1999) [WorldCat].
Jane A. Barlow reviewed the volume in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 321 (Feb., 2001) 95-96 [JSTOR]
"At the time that Mrs. Severis was forming her collection, the laws regulating the sale of unprovenanced antiquities were very different from what they are now. ... In the years between the early 1960s and the early part of the 1970s, when, according to the foreword, the bulk of the collection was made, the Department of Antiquities adopted a policy of "silent accord." This policy allowed Cypriot citizens to buy the spoils of looting so that the objects could remain in the country.
The volume was also reviewed by Danielle A. Parks in the American Journal of Archaeology 107, no. 1, (2003) 128.
Four jugs from the Severis collection ("from the collection of Mrs Lito Severis ... Lito Severis was an amateur archaeologist and a prolific writer of childrens' books") appear to be for sale on the BidAncient website (as observed by Paul Barford; BidAncient Ltd. is based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England and is run by Eftis Paraskevaides):
- jug. $590. Lable: LS N140. Stated to be from an English private collection: Christie's (King Street), October 25, 2007, lot 251.
- olpe. $220. Stated to be from an English private collection: Christie's (King Street), October 25, 2007, lot 251.
- olpe. $250. LS 2001. Stated to be from an English private collection: Christie's (King Street), October 25, 2007, lot 251.
- olpe. $580. Label LS 1061. Stated to be from an English private collection: Christie's (King Street), October 25, 2007, lot 251.
- Lot 251. This contained "another group of mainly red polished ware round-bottomed jugs". Objects in this lost are stated to be: "Formerly in a European private collection: sold Christie's London, 12 April 2000, lot 389".
2. George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides. The objects are displayed in the Museum of the George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides Collection in Nicosia.
The George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides Collection covers a wide range of the history and archaeology of Cyprus, from the Early Bronze Age (2500 BC) to the end of the Mediaeval period (sixteenth century). This chronological succession of the objects has dictated the structuring of the Collection's presentation in the Museum. Designed to state-of-the-art specifications, its purpose is to highlight age-old Greek civilisation at the southernmost extremity of Europe. The whole Collection, numbering more than 600 items, is exhibited in the Museum. The objects which are not on display in the main show-cases have been collected together in a special case, accessible to researchers and the public.
As one of the most important private collections in Cyprus, it is considered unique in possessing superb examples of Mycenaean pottery in the Pictorial Style (fourteenth - thirteenth century BC). Amphora-shaped and bell-shaped krateres (mixing-bowls), prochoi (ewers), kylikes (cups) and phialai (bowls) are decorated with scenes of chariot-races, boxers and bull-fights, as well as of fishes or birds.
The collection is displayed within the context of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation.
The Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation was established in 1984, a decade after the Turkish invasion and the ongoing occupation of the northern part of the island.
The Foundation was born out of the Bank’s growing concern to assist in the rescue of the island’s cultural heritage, which has been pillaged or stolen by the Turkish forces from the occupied areas, and to promote the Hellenic culture of Cyprus at a professional and scholarly level.
Thus, while the context of all projects undertaken by the Foundation is meant to be Cyprological, i.e. pertaining to Cyprus (art, history, literature, etc.), the philosophy and policy of the Foundation is to promote the Hellenic character of Cyprus, in as much as this is an island of the wider Hellenic world. This assessment does not by any means detract from the unique, historical development of Cyprus from antiquity to the present.
3. Thanos N. Zintilis. The collection is displayed in The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens which lists Zintilis as one of its donors:
In 2002, the Cypriot collector Thanos N. Zintilis, with the consent of the Cypriot State, assigned a large portion of his collection to the MCA on long-term loan. More than 800 Cypriot objects gave the MCA the opportunity to set up the first comprehensive collection of Cypriot antiquities in Greece. The collection, which includes stone figurines, bronze weapons and tools, terracotta figurines, sculptures, glass vases, jewellery, and pottery of all periods, gives an overall picture of the ancient history of Cyprus and its relations with other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, namely the Aegean, Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor.There is a published catalogue: Stella M. Lubsen-Admiraal, Ancient Cypriote Art. The Thanos N. Zintilis Collection (Athens: Museum of Cycladic Art, 2004). [WorldCat]
The full catalogue of the Thanos N. Zintilis Collection of Cypriot Antiquities, authored by St. Lubsen Admiraal, for many years curator of the collection at the Allard Pierson Museum of Amsterdam, and edited by Maria Tolis, curator of the collection in the MCA. The catalogue includes approximately 780 entries with detailed descriptions, colour photos of all objects, introductory texts, a timeline and a map of Cyprus.Lost Archaeological Contexts
If the 3300 or so objects in these three private collections do not have recorded contexts, the archaeological information has been lost. However the Republic of Cyprus has provided a mechanism for these objects to be retained on Cyprus (or to be displayed in Athens). The size of these collections remind us of the general damage to archaeological sites on Cyprus. Thus there is all the more reason to protect the finite archaeological resource by legislation - and that includes the memorandum of understanding with the USA.
Finally, an Eftis has helpfully commented on this topic on UNIDROIT-L, picking up on the thread that had been circulated by David Welsh:
I know the status quo with antiquities very well with regard to Cyprus; I was born there and my father was a respectable collector on the island. Wherever you scratch the earth, Cyprus is full of antiquities from a diversity of periods, and it is no surprise that many pieces over the years have found themselves in private hands.There needs to be a study of the material and intellectual consequences of collecting Cypriot antiquities.
The situation was brought under control some 10 years ago by the government of Cyprus when they took the brave decision to declare a universal amnesty on the island (something which I wish the UK would also do): all citizens were invited to declare antiquities in their possession with Nicosia Museum. In return, the government promised that no confiscations would be made of any artefacts, but after that date it would be illegal to possess an unregistered Cypriot antiquity. This effectively would be the ideal opportunity to bring the black market in antiquities on the island to an end...I certainly availed myself of the opportunity and officially registered my collection on the island. As a legally registered owner I am entitled
to buy or sell to other similarly registered owners antiquities that are registered. No Cypriot antiquity can be exported out of Cyprus, other than for temporary exhibition abroad. I think this is very fair legislation. No reputable collector on the island would dream of dealing with illegally excavated material. However, such illegally excavated material is frequently taken out of Cyprus even today via the Turkish occupied north and sold in the North American and European black markets..a point of great concern to us all..