Thursday, September 8, 2011

Return of head from Sidamara Sarcophagus Requested

Turkey is asking for the return of a life-size marble head of a child, with curling hair, broken off at the neck that was knocked off the Sidamara Sarcophagus, now on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The head is now housed in the reserve collection of the Victorian and Albert Museum in London.

The head was snapped off a sarcophagus excavated in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) in 1882 by a British archaeologist named Sir Charles Wilson, who then covered the tomb over again. He took the head to England and his family gave it to the museum in 1933. The tomb to which the head belongs, the 3rd century A.D. Sidamara Sarcophagus, was re-discovered in 1898 and currently resides in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Now, the Turkish culture ministry wants to reunify the marble head [...] with the sarcophagus.
This is rather brutal treatment of an artefact even by late nineteenth century standards, not having the resources or ability to remove the whole sarcophagus, the relic hunter took a "sample" with a hammer.

The Turkish authorities are currently in negotiations with the Victoria & Albert museum to repatriate the object. These negotiations between the two parties are said to be "amicable" and ongoing. If the object is reunited with the sarcophagus, it would be a gesture of international goodwill because its removal from Turkey was before the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

Laura Allsop, 'Echoes of Elgin Marbles: Turkey asks UK to return ancient sculpture',, September 8, 2011 (Photo, Konya/CNN)

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