ElAnt v1n2 - MUSEUM AND ETHICS - J. Paul Getty Museum -Recent Acquisitions and Lectures

Volume 1, Number 2
July 1993


Kenneth Hamma,
Antiquities Department,
J. Paul Getty Museum,

Thanks to the interest of the editors, this addendum to EA begins as a short news report from the Antiquities Department of the Getty Museum. The origial invitation was to announce recent acquisitions, but because of the timeliness of distribution, it seemed a good venue also to announce symposia, seminars and lectures. The hope in this is not to generate a travelling audience, but to alert other institutions well in advance of the planned travel of visiting scholars so that they might take advantage of any opportunities presented for less costly adjunct travel or stop-overs en route. If other museums in the US and Canada would like to participate, then this might evolve into a monthly bulletin board for current events in Classics. Contributors to such a bulletin board from museums or with a broader scope on current activities - to cover symposia, conferences and the like - for any scholarly institutions would be welcomed. Because the speed with which these reports appear is part of their appeal, please communicate contributions to me at the above e-address. These will then appear regularly in Electronic Antiquity .


Helmet of Chalcidian shape
South Italian
Circa 350-300 BC
Height (without cheek flaps): 28 cm (11 in); Depth 20 cm (7 7/8 in); Width (16.3 cm (6 3/8 in.)

The shape of the helmet is the South Italian variation of the Chalcidian design. The flat visor is embellished with relief lines above the opening for the face that echo the lines of eyebrows, and large spirals are placed at the sides of the helmet above the ear holes. In addition the helmet exhibits an unusually large number of sculpted decorative elements. Locks of hair in relief are shown across the brow with a short section of a flat diadem visible at the front of the helmet. The diadem itself is decorated with a ten- petalled rosette flanked by curling tendrils. Attached to the top of the large spirals above the ear holes are stylized griffin wings, standing free of the helmet. They conceal the spiral wires which we know from illustrations on South Italian vases were used to hold feather plumes. A griffin protome springs from the top of the ridge that runs along the crown of the helmet. The edges of the hinges which attach the cheek guards are cut with a wave pattern. The cheek guards are decorated with strands of a beard which echo the locks of hair on the brow, and in the center of each is a quadraped climbing through the beard as though up the side of a hill.

Helmets with griffin protomes seem to have been usually, if not always, associated with gods or heroes. This helmet, decorated with a griffin protome, should perhaps also be associated with a hero - or the heroization of a dead mortal warrior - in which case the helmet would likely have been used symbolically in a funerary context. Because of these other uses, the griffin-protome helmet probably should not, as has been suggested, always be thought of as a Perseus helmet even though it has been associated with that hero from the fourth century BC and is often referred to as such in the literature.

Although the griffin protome type of helmet is known from representation in other media, this helmet is the only bronze example known to me. The decoration of a late fourth century helmet from Conversano (Bari Museum no. 20890) is closest to this helmet. It has griffin wings attached on either side above large spirals, locks of hair raised in relief across the front with a section of diadem in the hair, and hinged cheek pieces. Hair sweeping across the front of a helmet seems to be a peculiarly Italian decorative element, and is found also on helmets of other shapes: one from Herculaneum (Bibliothque National, Paris), one from Paciano (Perugia 1384), and an example presumed to be from South Italy and now in the Louvre (No. C7240).

Fragmentary statue of a kore
About 530 BC
Preserved H: 73 cm (28 3/4 in.); greatest W: 41 cm (16 1/8 in.)

From a nearly three-quarter life-sized statue of a kore, or standing maiden, the fragmentary torso is preserved wearing a long linen belted chiton, and a short diagonal mantle. She stands with her left leg in advance of the right, lifting the finely pleated fabric of her dress to one side with her left hand (now missing), and stretching the material in such a way that it reveals the outline of her buttocks and thighs beneath. The mantle, which falls in rich folds from her right shoulder to below her left breast, is fastened on her right shoulder with a series of buttons in the form of eight- petaled flowers, ten of which are preserved. Its folded upper edge forms a series of horizontal gathers. The maiden's thick wavy hair falls freely down her back, ending in fourteen separate locks, while in front it separates over each shoulder into three narrow ringlets that rest softly on the breast and descend almost to mid chest. Her right arm, now missing, was made separately and inserted into the socket in which the remains of an iron attachment pin are preserved. Her right hand stretched forward and may have held an offering. Missing are her head, both arms and her legs from the knees downwards.

Scientific analysis of the medium to large grained white marble were undertaken for this piece (cathodoluminescence, grain size and stable isotope measurements), and were conducted by two different scientists. Both of their results indicate a source on either Paros (Chorodaki) or Thasos (Aliki) with Paros the more porbably origin.

The closest comparison is a fragmentary torso of a kore that was found at Eleusis (Attika) in 1882, and that is now in the Athens National Museum (no. 25). The Getty kore is larger in size than the kore from Eleusis. It is also more carefully sculpted and its anatomy has an elegant quality of refinement that is lacking in the Eleusis figure with its beefy shoulders and thick neck. The costume of the two statues is nearly identical and both convey a similar swinging motion in the diagonal placement of the folds of the short mantle.


(Dates and times subject to change. Please contact the institution for details.)

25 August
William Gudenrath (Antiquities Conservation), a seminar on techniques of manufacture for ancient glass vessels

27 October
Lozinka Koynova-Arnaudova (Visiting Conservator), a seminar on the conservation of excavated Thracian tombs

Richard Beacham (Guest Scholar)

14 April
Painting in Antiquity lecture 1: Bronze Age Wall Painting, Gisela Walberg, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati, Ohio

21 April
Painting in Antiquity lecture 2: Etruscan Tomb Painting, Stephan Steingruber, Archologisches Institut der Universitat Mainz, Germany

12 May
Painting in Antiquity lecture 3: Macedonian Tomb Painting, Dimitrios Pandermalis, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece

19 May
Painting in Antiquity lecture 4: Roman Wall Painting, Bettina Bergmann, Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

26 May
Painting in Antiquity lecture 5: Egyptian Mummy Portraits, Eufrosyne Doxiades, Independent Scholar, London

Kenneth Hamma

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright remains with authors, but due reference should be made to this journal if any part of the above is later published elsewhere.

Electronic Antiquity Vol. 1 Issue 2 - July 1993
edited by Peter Toohey and Ian Worthington
ISSN 1320-3606