Friday, December 25, 2020

Roman plunder

Yesterday I was looking through the collections of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens to see if a relief sculpture I had photographed at "The Greeks" exhibit at The Field Museum in Chicago was already included in the images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and saw images of a spectacular bronze known as the Antikythera Ephebe.  The sculpture was found in the same location as the famous Antikythera mechanism. 

I've never had the opportunity to travel to Greece so have never seen this sculpture before but it looked so familiar.  I quickly realized that its face with the pouty lips as well as its artfully posed fingers looked very similar to the Victorious Youth, a Greek bronze sculpture I have photographed many times at the Getty Villa.

The two sculptures are dated to about the same time period so, thinking about how the remarkable Riace Warriors were found as a pair, I wondered if the Antikythera Ephebe and the Victorious Youth may have come from the same vicinity. When I checked the "find spot" for the Victorious Youth, I discovered it was supposedly found in the sea off the Italian Adriatic coast near the town of Fano where an Italian fisherman claims it was snagged in his nets,  quite a distance from the island of Antikythera south of Greece.

Scholars think the Victorious Youth may have been among sculptures of victorious athletes from Panhellenic Greek sanctuaries like Delphi and Olympia that were looted by the Romans.  The Roman ship carrying the sculpture was probably on its way to Italy when it foundered.  Of course the Antikythera  Ephebe may have been among such sculptures, too, but on a different ship that wrecked much closer to Greece. I think they would have made a marvelous pair!

Closeup of Antikythera Ephebe courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor George E. Koronaios.  

Full length Antikythera Ephebe courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Gary Todd. 

Victorious Youth that I photographed at the Getty Villa.

Victorious Youth that I photographed at the Getty Villa.


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