Skip to main content

The Morgantina Hoard: the collecting context

The Morgantina hoard has now gone on display in Rome. The efforts of Malcolm Bell and the Italian authorities have done much to identify the orginal contexts for the hoard(s).

But what about the museum context? Michael Gross has a short section in his Rogues' Gallery. Gross records that Bell first saw the hoard in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in the fall of 1987; he "recognized them immediately ... [and] put two and two together and notified the Metropolitan of that fact". Bell also entered into correspondence with Dietrich von Bothmer.

Gross reminds us, "In 1993, the Metropolitan had refused the archaeologist Malcolm Bell's request to closely examine the Morgantina objects". If this is true (and I have no reason to disbelieve it), then it says a great deal about the Met's attitude to enlightenment and comsmopolitan ideals.

Gross, Michael. Rogues' Gallery: The Secret History of the Moguls and the Money That Made the Metropolitan Museum. New York, N.Y.: Broadway Books, 2009. [details]

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know


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.

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.