Saturday, 17 January 2015

Hermes - who is being mugged?

While Turkish police have proudly announced the seizure of a "large number of historical artifacts, including the head of a 2,000-year-old Hermes statue" on 13 January ("Head of god Hermes seized in Anatolia", Hurriyet Daily News, 16 Jan 2015), Dorothy King has noted that the head is in fact an obvious fake ("Introducing the Master of the Miami Vice Hermes", 17 Jan 2015).

Since one of Hermes's attributes is a purse full of gold, I thought at first that the image on the Turkish website (top left) showed him being mugged. But apparently not. It seems those being made to look like a mug are the Turkish police - prematurely announcing a raid of an "historical artifact" without first checking their facts; "Cumhuriyet University academics" - who apparently fell for it too; and of course an alleged buyer - who is said to have paid $1 million for it three years ago and who then attempted to smuggle it abroad.

Certainly, anyone buying this unprovenanced rubbish thinking it is genuine deserves to be fooled (and worse): a) for having no common sense, b) for encouraging looting and c) for engaging in smuggling. But the authorities in cases like this (there have been several involving unsuspected fakes) also need to check their facts a bit better before going public and making themselves just look silly.

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