Friday 19 July 2019

Gaza Apollo - the story continues

Ever since a bronze statue of Apollo surfaced - and then promptly disappeared - in Gaza over five years ago, historians, curators, collectors, political groups and just about everyone have been yearning to either possess it or at least get a better look and know more about it. Currently, it appears to be in the custody of Hamas - and perhaps not likely to re-emerge any time soon.

In the meantime, a documentary by Nicolas Wadimoff was released last year and Al Jazeera have announced an abridged version. See it here while it lasts (until 14 August 2019). Frankly, I could do without the cheesy philosophical interludes but the film does offer a few excellent insights into some of the context and characters involved.

My personal thoughts? I suspect the statue is authentic (ancient Greek or a Roman copy) but its condition does not seem to suggest that it was lying under the sea for centuries. I tend to think it was originally found on dry land and perhaps, as one of the people in the film speculates, dropped overboard for some reason while being transported in modern times. It's quite possible it was being smuggled by boat between two other countries and jettisoned or lost off the Gazan coast when the venture was inconveniently interrupted. Who knows?

At any rate, whatever its origin, my two greatest concerns - assuming the statue really is authentic - are that it is likely to be in urgent need of conservation and that it eventually ends up properly curated on public display.

My thanks to Michael Press for publicising this news.

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