Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cypriot antiquities, Cesnola Collection, Stanford University Museum

This is just a short, uninformative, for-the-record post about the (lack of) find-spots, provenience, or provenance for some of the Cypriot antiquities in the Cesnola Collection at Stanford University Museum.

In 1964, Art historian John Rogers Davis and Greek professor Thomas Bertram Lonsdale Webster published a book on Cesnola Terracottas in the Stanford University Museum (Davis's 1949 M.A. dissertation having been a Catalogue of the Classical Terracottas in the Stanford University Museum).

Davis and Webster (1964: 11) thought that '[i]t seems almost certain that the whole Stanford series [artefacts 39-153] comes from Curium', but that thought seems to be based upon the style of the objects (their resemblance to other objects, which we know come from Curium).

Since there is no good information (either from scientific archaeological excavations, or at least from private collectors' records), it would be unscientific and unfair to assume that the 115 (25.78% of the) objects were probably from Curium (Kourion), and thus that the antiquities were probably looted by members of the nearby Turkish Cypriot majority mixed village of Episkopi.

It seems fairer to treat those 115 the same as the other 331 (74.22% - artefacts 1-38; 154-446), which have no indication of provenience/provenance/find-spot whatsoever (Davis and Webster, 1964: 7-22).

It is possible - even probable - that a few of the artefacts were scientifically excavated, systematically surveyed, or accidentally discovered, then their information was lost later. Realistically, however, many - most - of the artefacts were probably looted to supply the ever-hungry Luigi Palma di Cesnola.

Davis, J R. 1949: Catalogue of the Classical Terracottas in the Stanford University Museum. Palo Alto: Stanford University - unpublished Artium Magister (A.M.) dissertation.

Davis, J R and Webster, T B L. 1964: Cesnola terracottas in the Stanford University Museum. Lund: Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology.

No comments:

Post a Comment