Monday, 12 October 2020

An EPC Kotyle from the Medici Dossier

EPC Kotyle from the Medici Dossier.
Courtesy of Christos Tsirogiannis.
Christos Tsirogiannis, Associate Professor at the University of Aarhus, has linked a photograph from the Medici Dossier with the reverse of an Early Protocorinthian kotyle that is due to be offered for auction at Christies  (New York) on October 13, 2020 (lot 27). Although only one side is shown on the Christie's online catalogue, Tsirogiannis requested an image of the reverse from the auction-house and this has confirmed that they are one and the same. I understand that the District Attorney's office in New York was informed on Friday last week. 

The kotyle is provided with a history:
  • Private Collection, U.K. 
  • Art Market, U.K. 
  • with Peter Sharrer Ancient Art, New York. 
  • Acquired by the current owner from the above, 1997.
It is currently owned by an anonymous 'distinguished private collector'.

Peter Sharrer has been linked with at least one objects that has been returned to Italy: a Roman relief that was returned from Princeton in 2002. Sharrer was also the source for objects acquired by the Fleischmans as well as the Getty, the Michael C. Carlos Museum and Princeton. He is known to have acquired items from Robin Symes.

Why are the UK dealer and private collector anonymous? Are they are unknown? And where is the mention of the anonymous European collector in Christie's history?

Will other museums and collectors who purchased directly or indirectly from Sharrer conduct due diligence on their acquisitions?

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Monday, 28 September 2020

Stela from Saittai (Lydia)


A Roman period stele from the sanctuary of Apollo at Saittai in Lydia, modern Turkey, has been recovered in Italy ("1,800-year-old artifact delivered to Turkey from Italy", Anadolu Agency 23 September 2020). It was seized in 1997 from an undisclosed antiquities dealer. The stela, inscribed in Greek, has now been returned to Turkey for display in Anakara. 

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Monday, 24 August 2020

Suspected illegal metal-detecting at Silbury Hill

Silbury Hill © David Gill
Silbury Hill © David Gill

There are reports from the Wiltshire Constabulary of "illegal metal detecting" at Silbury Hill, part of the Avebury prehistoric landscape. How can such activity be considered to be acceptable? 



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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Illegal detecting on Hadrian's Wall



This intentionally significant Roman frontier system needs to be protected.

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Protecting archaeological contexts ... or not?

Tim Loughton, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, has tabled a question (15 July 2020):
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what requirements are placed on organisers of commercial rallies to (a) report Treasure, (b) follow best practice, (c) ensure that in-situ archaeology is protected and (d) ensure that archaeological finds made on their events are lawfully exported.
Note that there are themes here: reporting, best practice, preservation of archaeological context, and restrictions on the movement of cultural property of national significance.

There is a parallel question on the same date:
To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what in-situ (a) hoards and (b) other archaeological finds found on metal-detecting rallies and club events have been excavated without archaeological support in 2020; what assessment his Department has made of the level of loss to knowledge of those excavations.
Note this is a question specifically about hoards and other archaeological finds, as well the monitoring of the intellectual consequences of such activity.

The response from Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, is telling:
Guidance for both individual metal detectorists and organisers of events operating during the covid-19 lockdown was published on the gov.uk page Guidance on searching for archaeological finds in England during COVID-19 on 9 July 2020. The guidance points organisers to directions on operating inside and outside events and also advises organisers and finders what to do if they discover a new archaeological site. The page also directs finders and organisers to the National Council for Metal Detecting guidance on best practice when detecting. 
Rallies and club events are legally permitted and take place on private property with the landowner’s consent, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport does not currently monitor or record activities at these events. 
Responsibility for reporting possible treasure finds and arranging for an export licence lies with the finder and owner of the cultural object. Guidance on reporting treasure and applying for an export licence during the present situation is included on the gov.uk pages Guidance on searching for archaeological finds in England during COVID-19 and Export art, antiques and cultural goods: special rules. Anyone not reporting a potential treasure find or not obtaining an export licence where necessary can be subject to legal sanctions.

Dinenage, no doubt informed by someone within DCMS, ignores the issue about hoards and archaeological contexts and instead talks about 'a new archaeological site'. 

But essentially her answer appears to be: 'DCMS has not made any attempt to assess the level of loss to knowledge of those unscientific diggings to remove hoards and other material from archaeological contexts'.


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The Becchina Archive and Armour from Italy

Marianne Mödlinger and Christos Tsirogiannis have published a study of armour. It includes a group of 'armor for horses' (inv. 83.AC...