Culturally Appropriated Piece Returned To A More Proper Place

    A 2,000-year-old artifact that had ended up in the home of a Manhattan antiquities dealer is now in an Italian museum.

    NEMI, Italy — If stones could speak, the mosaic unveiled recently at an archaeological museum just south of Rome would have quite the tale to tell.

    It was crafted in the first century for the deck of one of two spectacularly decorated ships on Lake Nemi that the Emperor Caligula commissioned as floating palaces. Recovered from underwater wreckage in 1895, the mosaic was later lost for decades, only to re-emerge several years ago as a coffee table in the living room of a Manhattan antiques dealer.

    “If you look at it from an angle, you can still see traces of a ring from a cup bottom,” said Daniela De Angelis, the director of the Museum of the Roman Ships in Nemi, referring to the piece’s modern use. The mosaic has been installed in the museum next to two other marble fragments salvaged from Caligula’s ships, and was put on display on Thursday.

    “For us it’s a great satisfaction today to see the mosaic in this museum,” said Maj. Paolo Salvatori of Italy’s elite art theft squad, whose investigations led to the mosaic’s return. “Bringing back cultural artifacts to their original context” is the ultimate goal of the squad, he said, and the recovery of the mosaic reflected cooperation among the squad, Italy’s cultural authorities and law enforcement in the United States.


    How much art did Rome steal in plundering Gaul, Greece, Carthage, Illyria, Spain, Brittania, Egypt, Asia Minor, Palestině and parts Teutonic...? All those Roman ships sailing around the Mediterranean came back to port with something. Okay, they sacked cities but we're a little squeamish about clearing out temples (which doesn't mean they didn't do it, they just did it squeamishly).

    Actually, the 1 curious point is if Caligula, who reigned only 4 years, was all that bad. (I know, post-Trump it's hard to say that with a straight face, but even the Donald is meagre compared to what he could have been - certainly no Adolf Jr by a long shot)

    So should we ding or pity Romans, oops, Italians for their stolen art? Or is there some honor among thieves stealing from thieves? (considering the number if slaves Rome took, that brings up another odd question...)

    Seems like the only thing under discussion is a table from an Italian ship returned to an Italian ship museum.

    If this Italian guy had not done this in 1895

    In 1895, the antiquarian Eliseo Borghi managed to recover part of the ship’s decorative bounty, including some of the bronze decorations and parts of the marble floor. These items — including the recently returned mosaic, which he had restored using fragments of ancient marble integrated with modern pieces — were sold to museums in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, as well as to private collectors.

    then that mosaic would have been brought up from the bottom of the lake much later when

    Caligula’s ships were finally recovered between 1929 and 1931, after the lake was drained, an enterprise that exemplified “the highest feat of Italian hydraulic engineering,” said Alberto Bertucci, mayor of Nemi, which is arguably better known for its strawberries than its archaeological heritage.

    The Nemi museum was specially designed in the 1930s to house the massive ships — which measured roughly 240 feet long and 78 feet wide — as well as other artifacts dredged up at the time, including fragments of mosaics and brass tiles that covered the roof of a structure on one of the ships.

    and might have been lost in this fire

    But on the night of May 31, 1944, the ships were destroyed by a fire that scholars believe was deliberately set by vengeful German troops.

    “There was little left afterward because the fire was devastating,” said Ms. De Angelis. But some artifacts survived because they had been sent to Rome for safekeeping.

    So much for trusting governments with keeping antiquities safe over the ages. Shit happens over the centuries.There's wars and disasters like fires and earthquakes

    Not to mention that the whole shebang could still be rotting at the bottom of Lake Nemi if Elisio Borghi hadn't a profit motive in 1895 and some other Italians didn't decide later in 1929, at the beginning of a world depression, to start a project bringing the rest of the ships up, instead of like, feeding hungry people or some such.

    Mho, most antiquities have survived precisely because they were scattered allover the place because of profit motive, instead of stuck in one place that was not always protected. We have the tools now to bring them back together virtually.

    In general, more democratic governments find that the majority do not like tax money to be spent on the arts when not all the people have enough basics like food, shelter and clothing. Dictators can get this shit done if they have interest in doing so.

    By the way, this has nothing to do with "cultural appropriation."

    appropros of nothing... [sic]

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