Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A "Lydian" silver bowl at auction

I have commented before on the level of looting in ancient Lydia. I drew attention to the study by Christopher H. Roosevelt and Christina Luke that demonstrated in their survey of Lydia, "Of the 397 tumuli personally inspected, 357 or 90 percent showed signs of looting".

My attention has been drawn to a 'Greek silver bowl' that is being offered at auction later this week (Christie's December 11, 2009, lot 87). Its collecting history is stated as, "Japanese Private Collection, 1970s."

A parallel is offered: "For a similar example from Sardis see no. 14 in von Bothmer, A Greek and Roman Treasury." This parallel piece, now in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art 26.164.13, was found at Sardis and given by The American Society for the Exploration of Sardis.

So what is the full collecting history of this second "Greek", or more likely Lydian, silver cup? And why describe it as "Greek" when the closest parallel comes from Sardis?

A Lydian silver kyathos (that also surfaced in the 1970s) was withdrawn from a 2007 auction at Bonham's in London.

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