Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Cyrene Apollo

At the two-day conference of the Council of Antiquities in Cairo about the repatriation of artefacts in 2010, Libya stated that it wished two antiquities to return, "a statue of Apollo from the British Museum and a marble statue of a woman from the Louvre". I'm not clear what the statue in Paris is, but the British Museum object is the ' Cyrene Apollo'.

The monumental Roman (2nd century AD) cult statue discovered in January 1861 by Lieutenant Robert Murdoch Smith and Commander Edwin Porcher, whose excavations in the Temple of Apollo in the Greek and Roman settlement of Cyrene, on the Libyan coast are recorded in a monumental site report published in 1864. The statue was found broken into 121 pieces, laying near the large pedestal on which it had originally stood. The fragments were painstakingly removed from the site and reassembled in the British Museum. The statue now stands 2.29 metres high but the right arm, which was originally raised, and the left wrist and hand are missing (photo).

In 1989 Libya requested from Italy the restitution of the Venus of Cyrene, a white marble statue (Venus Anadyomene) that dates from the second century AD. It was taken to Italy after it was found in 1913 by Italian troops near the ruins of the city and was housed in Rome’s National Roman Museum (AP Photo/Ministero dei Beni Culturali – Italian Culture Ministry). The Venus was only returned in April 2007.

Peter Higgs, 'The Cyrene Apollo', History Today, 44 (11) (1994), pp. 50-54
BM webpage

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