Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who's Collection?

The recent coming to light of six ancient Egyptian artifacts at Christie's auction house has raised a whole host of questions. The red granite sunk relief of a Nubian prisoner is likely stolen from an excavation in 2000 says Archaeologists Dr. Hourig Sourouzain and the British Museum.

I have my suspicions that of the remaining 5 pieces the cobra is likely a fake and the attractive raised relief also caused problems for me particularly by its pattern of damage to one side and not the face? The coloured late period relief I am on the side of the relief as being genuine with a big question mark again because of convenient damage.

The remaining two pieces of a Middle Kingdom bust of a nobleman and the New Kingdom head of a Noblewoman are no great additions to the collection just the type of pieces you would love to find in a collection which may give the appearance of a long line of Egyptian art beginning in the Old Kingdom, if we are to believe the builder of the collection wanted the raised relief to represent that period even though its archaic stylistic value is more likely 26th Dynasty, nearly 2000 years later.

So in six pieces we have an attempt at an evolution of a couple thousand years of Pharaonic art. With this I come to the question for who and cannot help but wonder how soon after the excavation in 2000 was the granite relief from Amenhotep III's throne stolen?

The collection smells of being a Mubarak era VIP collection which may have belonged to someone in that regime, removing the collection from Egypt during the revolution. Why would anyone think of selling a fragment of a kings throne without a fool proof provenance?

The last question would make me think the person who attempted to sell the pieces was not the sophisticated collector who amassed the pieces, since the uncle story for their provenances from the 1940's cannot be true if the red granite throne fragment of the Nubian prisoner was excavated in the year 2000. This leads to an accomplice besides the seller and that the seller is likely a junior member in the plot, fool enough to offer his/her tail to the officials at Christie's and the police.

This leads me to wonder if the theft of the throne fragment being the work of someone who had a right to be in contact with the excavation material including the fragment soon after its discovery in 2000 and might have pocketed the stone upon examining the material before being packed away in storage? The real possibility that the acquisitionaire of the throne fragment was in the employ of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities or culture ministry at the time?

I guess from here we go to the officials in charge of the antiquities of Upper Egypt during the years after the 2000 discovery of the fragment at the mortuary temple of the "Magnificent" Amenhotep III at Thebes behind the colossi of Memnon. Not likely a career individual within the antiquies service but rather a lower level underpaid employee who needed money and likely passed through the money quickly.

It is not likely that this throne fragment is an isolated case and the stores need to be re-cataloged for what else is missing?


1) Ahram Online

Further reading: Fragments from Christie's

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