Recovery

Getty Museum returns the Head of Hades to Italy

Sometime between 300-400B.C., an unknown artist in Morgantina, Italy carefully sculpted this terra-cotta replica of the famed god of the Underworld, the feared Hades.  The skull or head itself was carefully sculpted on its own, and later the curly hair and beard were individually added, one curl at a time, just before the final firing in the kiln. Afterwards, it was carefully painted, and some parts of the paint remain such as the red in his hair and the blue in his beard.  This beautiful artifact is an amazingly well-preserved momento of painstaking artistry.

The piece goes by both the name “Head of Hades” and “Bluebeard” and was illegally excavated from an Italian archaeological dig during the 1970s. Afterwards it was sold and ended up at the Getty Museum in the USA.  

According to the Getty Website, the work was initially believed to be a depiction of Hades’ brother, Zeus (known occasionally as Bluebeard).  However, examination of the nearby discovered artifacts and the knowledge that Morgantina worshipped Persephone (kidnapped wife of Hades), they now believe it is actually Hades instead.  The kidnapping of Persephone is thought to have occurred at a lake near the city.  

Long story short, because the work was illegally excavated, it technically still belongs to Italy and was stolen property, meaning the Getty had to repatriate the bust to its nation of origin.  Although the legal exchange happened a couple years ago, the official trade occurred recently when Italian officials arrived to take over possession.  

One of the interesting notes to me is the fact that the Getty has owned this work since 1985 according to their own website. It is unclear why this is only being repatriated now.  

Either way, the work is finally home as Hades returns to his royal lands, protecting the good and punishing the wicked as they pass into his deadly realm.

Resources:

  1. Getty Website
  2. Yahoo! News
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“Terrified mother and child’s final moments preserved in ash after Pompeii volcano blast 1,900 years ago”

“Terrified mother and child’s final moments preserved in ash after Pompeii volcano blast 1,900 years ago”

by Kirstie McCrum via “The Mirror

A terrified mother and child’s final moments after the devastating Pompeii volcano have been unearthed for the first time in 1,900 years.

Restoration work on the bodies of those who died when the eruption of Mount Vesuvius engulfed Pompeii in Italy in AD79 have brought out some shocking finds like this scene.

One of the most catastrophic and damaging volcanic eruptions the world has ever seen, it claimed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killed unknown thousands of Romans.

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History at work: A restorer works on petrified victim with arms reaching out in the laboratory of the Pompeii excavation site

The pieces are soon to be shown at a Pompeii and Europe Exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, Italy.

Molten rock rained down on the surrounding landscape at a rate of 1.5 million tons per second in an eruption thought to have released 100,000 times the thermal energy of the Hiroshima bombing.

In recent years, archaeologists used hollows in the volcanic ash where victims’ bodies fell and decayed. They have filled these cavities with plaster to see the outline of their final resting places.

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Curled up: A volcanologist said that the contorted poses were “a consequence of heat shock on corpses”

There has been much excavation work of the area, with more than 1,000 casts of bodies being made in Pompeii alone.

In 2010, studies showed that a surge reached temperatures of 300°C in Pompeii.

Volcanologist Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo, who led the study said: “(It was) enough to kill hundreds of people in a fraction of a second”.

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Looking back: After a long restoration, casts of forms of people who died 18 centuries ago will be revealed to the public

In reference as to why the bodies were frozen in suspended action, Giuseppe explained: “The contorted postures are not the effects of a long agony, but of the cadaveric spasm, a consequence of heat shock on corpses.”

The eruption was foreshadowed at the time by smaller earthquakes in the preceding days, but nothing was done by authorities.

A Roman poet Pliny the Younger, who was 17 at the time, recorded much of what happened during the eruption, but it is thought that a horrific cloud of ash, volcanic gas and stones spewed from the volcano to a height of around 21 miles. . . . .

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Smuggled artefacts to return to Egypt from Switzerland

“Smuggled artefacts to return to Egypt from Switzerland”

by Nevine El-Aref via “Ahram Online

swiss

“A collection of 32 ancient Egyptian artefacts is to return back to Egypt in June after Egypt successfully asserted ownership of the objects.

Ali Ahmed, director of antiquities repatriation, told Ahram Online that the objects included limestone and wooden statues as well as a collection of limestone blocks from chapels across dfferent pharaonic periods.

The objects were seized by the Swiss police within the framework of a bilateral agreement between Egypt and Switzerland that prohibits the illegal import and export of cultural properties.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty said the objects are to be handed over to Egypt’s ambassador to Switzerland at the Federal Office for Culture in Bern during an event to mark tenth anniversary of the passage into Swiss law of a prohibition on illegal trade in cultural property.”

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