Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: Looking back

The last year has been a major time of change with a move from Swansea University to University Campus Suffolk. Highlights have included the news that I will be a recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America's Outstanding Public Service Award for 2012.

In January I tried to anticipate some of the stories that were likely to develop. Here are some of the developments.

A significant number of objects on sale in New York and identified from three separate photographic archives were highlighted in the Italian press. This put the ethical code of the IADAA under question. (The same gallery offered further material later in the year.) Other material appeared on the London market in April and in October, as well as on the New York market (and see here). Another item appear for sale in Germany. The MOU with Italy was extended. The "Aphrodite" returned from the J. Paul Getty Museum to Aidone on Sicily. The Minneapolis Institute of Art has finally agreed to return an Athenian krater to Italy. This was joined by two Roman statues from a North American healthcare company. South Italian pottery has been acquired for the Mougins Museum of Classical Art. An Athenian pot in the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens has been linked to one of the seized photographic archives.

In Egypt the year started with news about the looting of museums and archaeological stores as part of the uprisings linked to the so-called "Arab Spring". The case of the Saint Louis Art Museum's mummy mask has continued to rumble on without resolution. Antiquities offered on the London market were returned to Egypt. These included items from the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. A major ring has been broken in North America: material from a private collection was loaned to major museums.

The long-running dispute over the upper part of the "Weary Herakles" (formerly owned by Shelby White and Leon Levy) was resolved when the sculpture was returned to Turkey to be reunited with its (excavated) lower half. The Menil Foundation was to return frescoes to Cyprus. The J. Paul Getty Museum returned further material to Greece.

Items were looted during the political upheavals in Libya. A Roman portrait head from Sabratha was sold on the London market.

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