Skip to main content

Rider heading to the west?

"If you want to get into metal detecting to make a profit, forget it". The quotation comes from Trevor Austin, the general secretary for the UK's National Council for Metal Detecting (Mary Jordan, "In Britain, Guys With Metal Detectors Find Respect Along With History", Washington Post May 11, 2009).

Yet an anonymous ("unknown or access restricted") metal-detectorist has not done too badly from his October 2006 search near, what a press release from the UK Government Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) describes as, "a temple site" located "in Stow Cum Quy, Cambridgeshire" ("Culture Minister reins in export of statuette of horse", April 7 2009).

The find of a bronze horse and rider was recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The find is noteworthy and the DCMS release describes it in the following terms:
the statuette is of outstanding aesthetic importance, and of outstanding significance for the study of art, religion and society in Roman Britain.
The finder appears to have sold the piece at Bonhams on May 1 2008 (lot 273) for £10,200. And this significant bronze is due to leave the UK though there is a temporary ban on its export (which is due to be reviewed on June 6, 2009). The piece can remain in Britain if a purchaser is willing to acquire it "
at the recommended price of £22,066.81".

Think about the process. The piece has been removed from cultivated land (the PAS website records the land owner as "not defined"); there is no record of associated finds or context. The rider was subsequently recorded on the PAS database. It was then sold at public auction and the new owner hopes to export it - or, apparently, do rather well out of the deal if a new purchaser can be found.

Details on how to retain this part of England's cultural heritage can be found here.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

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.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.