As you know if you’ve been reading my blog recently, I’ve been focusing on a “tour” of ancient Ephesus in relationship to the New Testament. I had promised to move today’s “tour” to the so-called House of the Virgin Mary, but, instead, I want to focus on a story from yesterday’s news. It relates to a sister archeological site in Turkey.
The AP reports that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has returned a piece of a statue to Turkey after it was displayed in Boston for many years. The top half of a sculpture known as “Weary Hercules” is not back in Turkey where, according to Turkish officials, it was stolen in 1980 from a excavation site in Perge, near the city of Antalya. The Archeological Museum in had on display the bottom part of the statue, along with evidence that the top half was in the United States.
I find this story fascinating for several reasons. The main one is that I was actually in Perge and the Antalya Archeological Museum about a month ago. In fact, I was fascinated by the lower half of the Hercules statue, and took photos of it and of the display that documented the location of the upper half. I wondered if the two pieces would ever be reunited. Soon, they will be.
As you may know, vast amounts of archeological treasures from the Mediterranean world are on display where they were once found or even in the countries where they were discovered. Rather, they appear in museums in Britain, France, the United States, and elsewhere. Scholars and politicians from the countries where these treasures were found are crying foul, insisting that the artifacts be returned to their places of origin, even if they had once been legally removed from the countries. As you might imagine, museums that display the artifacts are not eager to give them back. Not only do these museums want to maintain their displays, but also, in many cases, they are worried about possible danger to the treasures if they were to be returned to their native lands. Some museums in these place are not well-equipped to protect the artifacts. There is also concern about the potential for the artifacts to be stolen or even destroyed by those who have a vested interest in wiping out that which does not concord with their views. For example, you may recall that several years ago, the Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed the world famous Buddhas of Bamiyan because they were “idols.”
At any rate, if you want to see the whole statue of the “Weary Hercules,” you’ll have to make a trip to Antalya, Turkey. The region is popular among tourists, and a side trip to Perge is well worth the effort if you’re interested in Greco-Roman culture and history.