Saturday, July 6, 2013

An Intriguing Museum Visit, 3

At the Carthage Museum, my friend and I stumbled upon this intriguing exhibit of recovered treasures from the palaces of the ex-dictator and his family. 
Well, of course, they had to have a classic amphora in some sort of alcove:

The sign tells us where it was "Saisie" (seized) and that it dates from the 5th century A.D., however, its provenance remains unknown. This was the case with most of the pieces shown--their origins are lost. Thieves have no respect.

And of course they required a classic Roman draped figure in a beach palace.

A monstrous white marble fountain head sat in the beach palace as well.

This artwork is unusual for the sign mentions the provenance: the Algiers Museum. Hmmm...
This Roman stela pleased me with its palm tree and the man's friendly-looking, peaceful expression. 
It was from the first century A.D. and found cemented into a patio wall at the beach palace--and worse for the wear.
The dictator had a curio cabinet in his palace with all sorts of bric-a-brac rather carelessly tossed in, making it difficult to see much of anything. 
In fact, those shelves contained unusual and valuable antiquities.
However, the most interesting piece was this angel-like figure of Eros, which was placed horizontally on the middle shelf of the cabinet.
As my friend pointed out, a two thousand-year-old terra cotta statuette rarely has any paint left at all. So this piece was remarkably preserved as well as showing superb craftsmanship.

At this point, I suppose I could stand upon my soap box and rant about the abuse of power by the ignoramuses of the world. However, plunderers find art theft a lucrative business and the rape of a national heritage and common patrimony has a long tradition. One need only consider the extensive collections of major European museums established during the colonial period...Need I say more?

News Update: Over 30 million Egyptians demonstrated for four days until the army stepped in on July 3rd. Friends took pictures in the midst of the crowd.
The army had given President Morsi 48 hours to negotiate a viable plan with the opposition, however, Morsi defiantly maintained his legitimacy and did not take advantage of this slim opportunity. So the army, with the approval of opposition leaders and the organizers of the demonstrations, named the head of the Constitutional Tribunal as temporary president while elections were to be organized. The constitution was suspended and is now under review, and the Parliament was dissolved. The army made it clear they had no intention of governing, but sought only to respect the wishes of the People and return the country to order, emphasizing that security, which has disintegrated over the last year, would be restored. 

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief: the deposed government would have run Egypt's economy into the ground and the transition could have been much worse. News reportages showed the blockades of huge blocks in front of the presidential palace (seen in the previous post) being hauled away--a good sign, I think.

And yet, as with the Revolution two years ago, the deposing of the government remains only a first step. Leaders must organize elections, breathe life into a dying economy, improve infrastructures, and provide security and stability for all. A Rocky Road lies ahead.

Note to myself: I must do a piece with the Rocky Road pieced quilt pattern. It's appropriate for the times.


Tonya Ricucci said...

well, at least those treasures stayed in the country - that's good. definitely watching the news about Egypt. I hope the transition goes smoothly and they can get the country running again. sigh.

Janet M. Atwill said...

What an amazing job you did pairing objects and their photos in situ! Still I find it incredible that an exhibit of plundered cultural objects was itself so unprotected! As I remember, the exhibit was entitled “Patrimoine Spolié, Patrimoine Récupéré." In the context of the exhibit, were the objects "staged" as valuable primarily because they had been "re-seized"?

Merilyn said...

I enjoyed seeing those very ancient carved pieces, indeed beautiful craftsmanship!!! I hope there is a brighter future for Egypt!

Ms. said...


Julie Fukuda said...

I hope a country so dependent on tourism,can get their act back
together before so much is lost.
Great to see those treasures on display.

Beverly said...

Thanks so much for the glimpse of the wonderful antiquities.

I really appreciate your observations and information about what is going on in your part of the world.