Monday, 26 November 2012

The Usak Fake Hippocamp

The Guardian had a text yesterday (Constanze Letsch, 'King Croesus's golden brooch to be returned to Turkey', Sunday 25 November 2012) concerning the return to Turkey of the winged hippocampus pendant brooch stolen from Usak Museum. The article is notable for the photo of the real stolen object and fake side-by-side. 

The original, left, and the fake golden brooch in the shape of a winged hippocampus from the Lydian Hoard in Turkey.
(Guardian photomontage)

It seems to me that the differences apparent in the photo are more a function of the difference in the way the two are lit. It looks very much from these photos as if the fake has not been modelled, but made from a cast of the original. It would be interesting to know more about the technology of manufacture of this fake, including the precise composition of the gold and gold wires. After that, I'd like to see the fake auctioned-off to raise money for heritage protecting in Turkey.

A tantalising possible hint as to how the stolen original was found is also given, a "culture and tourism official", Serif Aritürk is quoted as saying: "No collector would have dared to acquire such a well-known artefact, it was clear that the thieves would not find a buyer easily". Was it actually found still in the hands of a Turkish member of the original gang now based in Germany? Another sting by police agents posing as buyers? Was the seller arrested and will he be charged?

Over on another blog it is unobservantly suggested that no information is available about what "the Turks" will do to "safeguard" this piece of cultural property once they have it back.  The author presumably has not seen the several news articles referring to it being housed in the National Museum in Ankara before being taken to the new museum being built in Usak. The Guardian gives the additional information that the larger museum being built to display the 450 pieces of the Lydian collection in its entirety is due to open in December 2013.

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