Looted Episode 3: Big Bronzes
This is the third in a series of podcasts from Zoe Kontes’ terrific “Looted.”
There’s nothing like a full-bodied ancient Greek bronze nude to get the crowds to a museum. A visitor might even fall in love (speaking from personal experience Riace Bronzes, here’s looking at you). We’ll focus on two of these very rare figures, found in US museums, but currently the subject of great debates of identification and international ownership.
On Looted: The Podcast, we uncover the hidden stories of ancient artifacts and their journeys in the illicit antiquities trade. I’m Zoe Kontes, and I’m an archaeologist. When we archaeologists dig, we carefully record what we find so we can make the best sense of the evidence. But go to any museum, auction house, or dealer with an antiquities collection—Ebay even—and you’ll be sure to find objects that have been removed from the ground without this kind of proper excavation. Looting destroys the context of artifacts, and while they may look beautiful in a display case, we lose any information about their significance or function in the culture that made them. This is a loss of our common human history, and it affects us all.