China: Sports more important than Culture

February 7, 2007

China is using the Olympics as the steamroller for a vast array of infrastructural developments that just happen to also be destroying a lot of artifacts. If Rome is the best place to currently ponder the eternal battle between Archaeology and the Art Market, then China is the best place consider the nexus of Urban Development, Cultural Destruction, and Wholesale Tomb Raiding.
Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Romans locate suspected site of ancient she-wolf suckle

January 28, 2007

Underfunded Italian archaeologists have discovered a vaulted chamber on Rome’s Palatine Hill that they believe may be the grotto worshipped as the site where Romulus and Remus suckled the she-wolf. The AP article explains that Italian archaeologists are extremely short of funds, and may have trouble fully excavating their new finds, which are part of the area around Augustus’ palace. I find this very profound, because Palatine Hill is ground zero for the birth of the Art Market, where Popes started digging up statuary in the 15th Century and began art collecting as we know it.
Read the rest of this entry »


“Tomb Raider” True: Getty knew all about my shopping habits

January 21, 2007

marion_ture-trial2.jpg
Marion “Tomb Raider” True is accusing her former employers, the Getty Museum, of acting all like they didn’t know nothing about her buying habits. Although she officially served as their Curator of Antiquities from 1986 – 2005, in fact, True was a super high-end picker of Greek and Roman loot with the Spending Budget of the Century. NYTimes reports that, in her legal defense, she delivered a copy to the Italian court of her own letter she wrote to the Getty directors back in December, in which she accused them of leaving her to “carry the burden” of the institution’s collecting practices, even though her superiors at the museum and the trust had “approved all of the acquisitions made during my tenure.”
Read the rest of this entry »


“Tomb Raider” True bought looted Greek wreath cheap

January 17, 2007

Getty Museum antiquities curator Marion “Tomb Raider” True’s legal struggles have now extended in to Greece where she faces charges for having knowingly purchased a looted 4th Century BC golden funerary wreath. Among many points of interest in a fabulously juicy story (see NYTimes article) is the claim that she bought the piece through a Swiss middleman for the staggeringly cheap price of 1.1 million USD. Geez, you can’t even get a half-way decent Csontvary for that kinda money. I mean get a load of this thing:

greek-funery-wreath-c320bc.jpg
Funerary Wreath, Greek c.320-300 BC. Gold, with blue and green glass-paste inlays.
Read the rest of this entry »


Uncomfortable conversation is best thing on show at Vienna Antiques Fair

December 20, 2006

While perusing the Antiquitätenmesse in Vienna in October, we came upon a stand prominently located in the foyer of the Palais Ferstel. The vitrines were filled with a vast assortment of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts. In fact so many, in such good condition, that I had to think there was something not quite right. And then, as if the Baby Jesus had answered my prayers, I overheard the voice of tall Englishman behind me, addressing a dark haired man with a mustache.

Englishman: Oh Hi, I was hoping to find you here.
Mustache: Oh Hello again, are you buying paintings again this year?
Englishman: No, I just came here to see you.
Mustache: (audibly uncomfortable) Oh I’m very pleased.
Englishman: You see I wanted to bring something up with you. You remember that terracotta statuette of Venus I bought from you. Well I had an archaeologist I know round to my house for dinner, and I showed it to her. She said it couldn’t possibly be authentic.
Read the rest of this entry »