Thursday 20 May 2021

The so-called Marcus Aurelius and the so-called Ryedale hoard

The bronze bust of a figure identified as the emperor Marcus Aurelius formed part of a 'hoard' discovered in a field in Ryedale, Yorkshire (Jonathan Chadwick, "Incredible Marcus Aurelius bust is among a treasure trove of 2,000-year-old Roman bronze artefacts dug up by metal detectorists in Yorkshire and tipped to sell for £100,000 at auction", Mail Online 21 April 2021). The find is described:
"The items were discovered last year by metal detectorists James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field in Ryedale, North Yorkshire."
In other words, during 2020, the pandemic year, these finds were made. Specifically the find was made in May 2020 (George Buksmann, "Incredible 'nationally important' Roman bronze artefacts discovered in Ryedale expected to sell for £90,000", Scarborough Evening News 29 April 2021). This has been identified as 24-25 May; the location was near Ampleforth [see here].

Url: PAS record number: YORYM-870B0E
Object type: Assemblage
Broadperiod: Roman
County of discovery: North Yorkshire
Stable url:

Adam Staples from Hansons speculates:
"They were interred in the ground together so they should stay together. We think they were buried as a ritual deposit, as part of a Roman religious process and an offering to the gods."
Do we know that this 'hoard' was interred together? What is the archaeological context? What is the evidence that this was a 'ritual deposit'?

The hoard is due to be sold at auction by Hansons today.

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Wednesday 19 May 2021

PAS Finds and Lincolnshire

© David Gill

I have been working through the RSA Heritage Index data and thought that it would be interesting to look at the reported archaeological finds for Lincolnshire (including the two unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire). These data are derived from PAS. Over 83,000 finds were recorded reflecting the high level of activity in the county.

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Thursday 6 May 2021

A Fragmentary Athena Attributed to Myron

It has been reported that a fragmentary Roman limestone copy of a 5th century BCE sculpture of Athena attributed to Myron is now the subject of a civil forfeiture order (Christi Carras, "Kim Kardashian, statue smuggler? Government says Roman artwork entered U.S. illegally", LA Times 4 May 2021). 

The sculpture was part of a five ton consignment seized in 2016 at Los Angeles. In 2018 the Italian authorities claimed that it had left Italy without appropriate documentation. The consignment itself had reportedly come from Axel Vervoordt, though the company disputes that the sculpture was derived from Italy. 

A report in the Daily Telegraph (Nick Squires, "Authorities seek return of 'looted' sculpture from Kim Kardashian", 5 May 2021) suggests that the sculpture was purchased at the Maastricht Antiques Fair in 2011 (on that particular sale see here).

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Another Bubon bronze head likely to be repatriated

It appears that a bronze head acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum from Nicolas Koutoulakis has been removed from display and appears to be...