Friday, October 19, 2007

"The Lydian Hoard" revisited

I was very struck by the study of Christopher H. Roosevelt and Christina Luke which describes "The Destruction of an Archaeological Landscape in Western Turkey". Their starting point is the notorious "Lydian Hoard" returned from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to Turkey.

They note that the "hoard" --- in fact a haul of material derived at least four separate grave mounds --- "made their way via Izmir and Switzerland to dealers in New York City". But Roosevelt and Luke rightly stress the "most destructive effect" of the looting --- "the loss of context".

A recent survey of Lydia shows the extent of the problem. They continue: "Of the 397 tumuli personally inspected, 357 or 90 percent showed signs of looting" (p. 179) [emphasis mine].

What is happening to the objects? How does this level of destruction influence our interpretation of Lydia?

References
Bothmer, D. v. 1984. A Greek and Roman treasury. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Özgen, I., and J. Öztürk. 1996. The Lydian treasure: heritage recovered. Istanbul: Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture General Directorate of Monuments and Museums.
Roosevelt, C. H., and C. Luke. 2006. "Looting Lydia: The destruction of an archaeological landscape in western Turkey." In Archaeology, cultural heritage, and the antiquities trade, edited by N. Brodie, M. M. Kersel, C. Luke, and K. W. Tubb, pp. 173-87. Cultural heritage studies. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
Rose, M., and Ö. Acar. 1996. "Turkey's war on the illicit antiquities trade." In Archaeological ethics, edited by K. D. Vitelli, pp. 71-89. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira.


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