Getty Museum Returns Ancient Bronze Head to Turkey

Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Getty Museum Returns Ancient Bronze Head to Turkey

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles announced it has initiated the return of a bronze head of a young man from its antiquities collection at the Getty Villa Museum to Türkiye.

The transfer is in accordance with Getty’s policy to return objects to their country of origin or modern discovery when reliable information indicates that they were stolen or illegally excavated. The Museum has removed the object from display at the Getty Villa Museum and has initiated its return to Türkiye.

“In light of new information recently provided by Matthew Bogdanos and the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office indicating the illegal excavation of this bronze head, we agreed that the object needed to be returned to Türkiye,” said Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the Getty Museum.

Acquired by the Museum in 1971, the head (dating to c. 100 BCE–100 CE) is a separately cast component of a life-size figure, detached from the body at the upper neck, with evidence of ancient joins on the interior along the break. An inscribed alpha ("A") is visible on the interior of the neck at the bottom rear edge. The eyes, once inlaid with an unknown material, are not preserved. 

The body of the figure has not been identified, but the head has been associated by some scholars with the archaeological site of Bubon, in the Burdur province of southwestern Türkiye, where illicit excavations in the late 1960s brought to light several ancient bronzes that were subsequently sold abroad. Most depict Roman emperors and members of their family. The head of a youth, however, is highly idealized and has not been identified as a member of an imperial family or as any other named individual.

Potts adds, “We seek to continue building a constructive relationship with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and with our archaeological, conservation, curatorial, and other scholarly colleagues working in Türkiye, with whom we share a mission to advance the preservation of ancient cultural heritage.”

Main Image :Head from a Statue of a Youth, Roman, 1st century BCE–1st century CE. Bronze

Stephanie Cime

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