Version classiqueVersion mobile


Jan Driessen

7. The Brussels Mycenaean Gold Cup1

Jan Driessen

Texte intégral

  • 1 Acknowledgements: I sincerely thank Natacha Massar, curator of Greek antiquities at the Royal Museu (...)
  • 2 See, e.g. Laffineur 1976, 1977 and 1996, as well as the many papers on gold and silver wares by Laf (...)
  • 3 The goblet is shown by Bossert (1937: 18,43, plate 69) but is absent, for example, from Davis’ (197 (...)
  • 4

1The topic of Mycenaean gold and especially gold vessels has always been dear to Robert Laffineur’s heart which is why the Brussels goblet A.2249 decorates the cover of this volume2. Apart from a brief preliminary mention, the gold cup was first published by Charles Delvoye (1917-1991) in the 1941 issue of the Bulletin of the Royal Museums of Art and History. It was Delvoye’s first article but he planned a more detailed study which, however, never appeared (Delvoye 1941: 85-92). Afterwards, Robert Laffineur (1976a: 40-41; 1977: 122-123) gave a detailed description with black-and-white photographs while presenting the Museum’s Aegean collection. A colour image accompanied the detailed presentation of the Benaki Museum goblet by I. Papageorgiou (2008: 14, fig. 13). Despite its intrinsic qualities, however, the goblet has received little other attention in scholarly literature3. This is probably a result of the little information on its acquisition that was provided on occasion of its first publication and the possibility – never mentioned but often assumed – that it is a fake. This Festschrift, and the discovery of some original archival documents by the curator of Greek antiquities of the Royal Museums of Art and History, Dr. Natacha Massar, are, I believe, sufficient reason to give it the attention it deserves. On the basis of these new documents (see below) and by also referring to other letters that are part of the Franz Cumont archives, accessible online at the Academia Belgica in Rome4,I will argue for the possibility that the goblet may conceivably have been robbed from the Dendra cemetery near Midea. This, together with the chemical analyses, may be considered as arguments in favour of its authenticity.

1. Description and date of the goblet (Figs 7.1 to 7.7)

  • 5 In one of the letters (n° 8, see below), Mayence tries to explain this oddity using an analysis by (...)

2Mycenaean goblet A.2249 with a lion hunting a deer: Weight: 82.5 grams; Height preserved: 10.5 cm; Diameter of the cup: 8.4 cm; handle broken off but three rivet holes remain. The footed cup or kylix (6.4 cm high) was made out of two separate sheets, one for the bowl, one for the stem and foot, of approx. 0.50 mm thick each. The bowl may have been crushed and readjusted, perhaps by its discoverer. This crushing has produced some folding and ripping in the metal where the lion is and the readjustment probably caused some tearing of the sheet. The upper rim or lip of the bowl is crinkled and clearly seems to have been interfered with. Since the top two rivet holes are within this lip, one supposes that it was originally folded towards the outside, forming an angle, similar to other gold Mycenaean goblets. Since the repoussé of the scene is visible within, it is also possible that there was a separate gold lining set within, as is the case with the Vaphio goblets5, which has now disappeared and that this caused the crinkling of the lip. The original inventory card (below, n° 1) describes the form of the bowl and the clearly preserved traces of the handle. Three holes – two close to the rim and one about 1 cm down – show where the rivets once held the handle. Part of the top right rivet remains in place. The originally attached handle has left a negative trace on the goblet at this point (Fig. 7.3). The stem is formed by a double sheet of gold foil rolled in a cylinder, soldered together over its entire length with a welding of gold, silver and copper. A torus moulding separates goblet and stem. Stem and foot are made out of one sheet and were welded to the bowl – fusion joining in Davis’ terminology, a more Mycenaean type of technique (Davis 1977: 51-53). This joining was hidden behind the torus moulding, itself decorated with chevrons. The foot of the goblet has suffered from some interference (Fig. 7.5) and there may originally have been a lining in another material around which the gold foil had been folded.

3The goblet decoration in repoussé shows a lion chasing a deer, both represented in gallop with their legs extended forward and backward (Figs 7.1-7.2; 7.7). The lion’s body is somewhat stocky since the metal has folded at this point making the lion’s body shorter than it originally was. Moreover, the damage done to the outside of the vase makes it easier to appreciate the scene from the inside (Fig. 7.4). At the feet of lion and stag is a landscape of plants, some of which are quite elaborate (Fig. 7.7); above the scene is a series of vertical striations of uneven length. Enough distance was left between the back of the lion and the front of the deer for the handle. Opposite viewers during a feast would hence have seen the deer if the goblet was used by a righthanded person, or the lion, if used by a left-handed person.

  • 6 The Benaki goblet, for example, is almost pure gold, which may be an argument against its genuinene (...)

4According to the original acquisition documents (below, n° 15), the director of the École des Mines de Paris, Gabriel Chesneau, as well as the Brussels-based goldsmiths Maison Wolfers both concluded the goblet was in pure gold and the unit 750 is mentioned. But unpublished analyses done in 1936 by Paul Coremans, chemist, founder and first director of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage in Brussels, gives a gold percentage of 90 % (22 karats), with the remaining 10 % formed by silver, copper, iron, lead and arsenic (as were the fragmentary handle and cylinder acquired at the same time, for which, see below). This proportion is very similar to other analysed Mycenaean gold vases with secure provenance and may well be an argument for the genuineness of the goblet since Aegean Bronze Age gold is almost never pure and always includes considerable proportions of silver (Lapatin 2002: 186)6. Future analyses, however, should confirm this.

Fig. 7.1. Brussels Goblet: Lion side (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA151233_A.2249)

Fig. 7.2. Brussels Goblet: Deer side (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA151913_A.2249)

5Delvoye does not mention the existence of a handle but when R. Laffineur studied the vase for his 1977 book, he noted the presence, in the same Museum showcase as the goblet, of a flat ribbon handle ending in a V with a perforation, decorated with four parallel nerves and a series of small bosses (Laffineur 1977: 122). This must be the gold ribbon of 5 cm long and 1 cm wide (n° 2) a sketch of which is given in letter n° 12. This strip was assumed to come from the goblet but the seller had cut a piece of it to make a ring for his daughter. It was also discussed by Coremans in his 1936 analysis (n° 15) but was not available for study. It is possible that this V-shaped ending did indeed form the lower part of the handle, even if the negative trace on the goblet would suggest a slightly wider (1.7 cm) strip (Fig. 7.3). A small gold cylinder (A.2251), acquired at the same time and perhaps from the same context, does not seem to belong to the goblet.

Fig. 7.3. Brussels Goblet: Rivet holes (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA163404_A.2249)

Fig. 7.4. Brussels Goblet: inside basin (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA161215_A.2249)

  • 7 I thank N. Thomas for drawing my attention to this parallel.

6As to the scene depicted on the goblet (Fig. 7.7), the animals chasing each other in typical flying gallop fashion are of course very much at home in the Argolid and can be compared with a fragment of galloping bulls from Dendra and a vase from Mycenae with running and chasing lions as well as with the (suspect) kylix in the Benaki Museum with running hounds (Laffineur 1977: figs 25, 35, 44; Karo 1930: 125, plate CXXVI; Bossert 1937: 18; Papageorgiou 2008: passim). Lions hunting stags are of course depicted on one of the grave stelae of Mycenae (LH I-II) (Karo 1930: plate VII) and several inlaid weapons (Karo 1930: 96, 136, plates XCIII-XCIV) and other objects (Karo 1930: plate CXLIV) from Mycenae have galloping lions as their main theme, some of which are quite similar. The closest parallel for the lion’s head is a small three-dimensional gold lion from Shaft Grave III at Mycenae (Karo 1930: plate XXVII: 32)7. Where the potential date of the goblet is concerned, it seems reasonable on stylistic and technical grounds to attribute the piece to the Shaft Grave period and both Bossert and Delvoye proposed a Late Helladic I date (Bossert 1937: 18; Delvoye 1941: 90), the period during which lion iconography was especially popular on metal objects in the Argolid (see especially Younger 1978 and Thomas 2004 with plenty of references on lion iconography). It may be observed also that the Brussels goblet, together with the Vaphio cups, are among the rare metal vases to show a clear ground level with vegetation and a sky decoration, something more at home in Minoan than Mycenaean art, and also rather a Late Minoan IB-II feature (Laffineur 1976: 40). If this impression is correct, a slightly later date, Late Helladic IIA-B, may be more likely (Papageorgiou 2008: 14).

Fig. 7.5. Brussels Goblet: detail of foot and stem (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 1 5RA163315_A.2249)

Fig. 7.6. Brussels Goblet: sketch by F. Cumont in a letter of July 13, 1921 to J. Capart (photo author)

Fig. 7.7. Brussels Goblet and roll-out of scene (drawing by Grégory Hardy)

2. The acquisition of the goblet: Archival Documents in the Royal Museums of Art and History

7The archives of the Brussels Museum contain a number of documents that pertain to the goblet. These are briefly listed and described here:

  • N° 1: Acquisition card for A.2249: ‘Coupe en or’ of the Mycenaean period in the form of a chalice. Description of the shape, technique and decoration. Mention is made that the vase was found in a tomb in the Argolis and that it entered the Museum on February 15, 1922. In addition to a description of size and some observations and references to photographs and bibliography, it is stated that the vase was acquired from a Greek merchant in Paris through F. Cumont for the sum of 15.500 fr.
  • N° 2: Acquisition card for A.2250: ‘Fragment de lamelle en or’ which, it is stated, probably formed part of the handle of the previous vase. The rivet hole at one side is noted, as is the cutting of the other side. It entered the Museum on February 20, 1922. It was bought by F. Cumont from the same merchant as A.2249 and given by him to the Museum.
  • N° 3: Acquisition card for A.2251: ‘Petit cylindre en or’, said to have been found with A.2249 and A.2250 according to the seller. This too entered the Museum on February 20, 1922.
  • N° 4: Handwritten letter dated July 8, 1921 from Franz Cumont in Paris to Jean Capart, presenting the goblet for the first time and immediately recognising it as Mycenaean. It is mentioned that the handle is missing but that it is decorated with a repoussé scene of a lion and a deer. The vase is offered by a dealer – who is foreign – and does not want to be named because he is afraid of the judges in his country which is the reason why he did not address himself to a museum. But he is apparently the same one who recently sold a figurine of Hagesareta8 [which passed through the Museum]. The goblet is said to come from the Argolid from a site from where Feuardent9 probably recently acquired pieces of ornament and a necklace. Cumont says he has shown the piece to Pottier10, Michon11, Babeion12, Clermont Ganneau13 and Reinach14, who, independently, believed it to be genuine despite their reluctance to validate any object in gold since the ‘tiara case’15. It is further stated that the seller wants 25.000 francs but is willing to go for less if paid in cash. Cumont urges Capart to hurry and vouches for the authenticity of the piece.
  • N° 5: Typed letter dated July 12,1921 with Museum letterhead (Musées royaux du Cinquantenaire) probably by Jean Capart to Franz Cumont. Capart writes both in his own and Mayence’s name and mentions that they are trying to make an appointment with M. Philippson16, head of the Friends of the Museum, to buy the goblet. In the meantime, they instruct Cumont to take an option on the piece and to settle a price since they believe that the chief curator M. Van Overloop17 (then on holidays) will approve, as does his temporary replacement Baron de Loë18. He thanks Cumont for helping them again to get such a remarkable piece for the Museum19 [implying that this is not the first time Cumont acts as an intermediary in the purchase of antiquities].
  • N° 6: Handwritten letter dated July 13, 1921 from Fr. C. (Franz Cumont) in Paris to Jean Capart, stating how happy he is that the Museum will acquire the piece. He mentions how he asked one of his own brothers20 to advance the money for the purchase since the dealer does not want to wait. Cumont has acquired the goblet for 15.500 francs and asks how he can get the goblet to Brussels: will either Capart or Mayence come to Paris or does he have to use the diplomatic bag? On the back of the letter he adds a series of descriptive elements about the goblet which he thinks is ‘incontestablement mycénienne’ and worth much more than the price paid. The verso of the letter also has a 1: 1 sketch of the goblet (Fig. 7.6) and a brief description of both the scene and the technical aspects of the vase. He also mentions that the seller promised to look out for the basin in gold foil which is assumed to originally have been within the goblet and which is lost, making the repoussé visible from within the bowl.
  • N° 7: Handwritten letter dated August 8, 1921 from Franz Cumont to Fernand Mayence in which Cumont agrees to meet Mayence on Friday (i.e. on August 12). He also mentions having had the goblet examined by a chemist who stated that the gold used at 750 was much superior to that used in jewellery of the time and similar to that of Greek coins in being almost pure gold. This, he believes, helped to make the gold foil very malleable. He promises to hand over some notes on this matter at their Friday meeting.
  • N° 8: Typed letter (4 pages) dated October 30, 1921, with Museum letterhead from Fernand Mayence to the chief curator of the Museum in which he sets out the story on the acquisition of the goblet, starting with Cumont’s letter to Capart on the 8th of July. He includes a detailed description of the object which also refers to an analysis by M. Wolfers21 and mentions parallels for the lion and deer scene. He insists on the superb quality of the vase and mentions the earlier comments regarding its authenticity given by Capart and adding that he showed the goblet to Sir Arthur Evans22 a few days earlier. Despite the many fake Mycenaean objects in circulation at the time, Mayence insists that Evans accepted it as genuine. This was also the opinion of Prof. Myres23, also consulted by Mayence. But then there is some new information which is clearly based on the handwritten non-dated notes (below n° 13) by Cumont: “D’apres les indications fournies par le marchand, elle [the goblet] aurait été trouvée au mois de juin a Platanitsa, village situé entre Mycènes et Trézène”. He concludes by mentioning that Cumont has also shown the goblet to M. Chesneau24, director of the École des Mines in Paris, who stated it was in pure gold. The remaining of the letter deals with financial matters.
  • N° 9: Handwritten note dated November 7, 1921, with Museum letterhead from F. Mayence to the chief curator of the Museum [i.e. Eugene Van Overloop] in which he reports the unanimously favourable decision of the committee of the First Section (i.e. Antiquity) to acquire the goblet.
  • N° 10: Typed letter with Museum letterhead dated November 11, 1921, from the chief curator of the Museum to the Minister, asking permission to buy the goblet for 15.500 francs (including an interest due to Cumont’s brother).
  • N° 11: Typed letter with Ministry of Sciences and Art – Administration of Fine Arts letterhead, dated December 6, 1921, from the Minister Xavier Neujean25 to the chief curator of the Museum giving permission to buy the goblet and sending his thanks to Cumont.
  • N° 12: Handwritten letter dated December 17, 1921, from Franz Cumont in Paris to Fernand Mayence; two pages. He states that the seller came back to him after having seen the vine grower who made the discovery of the goblet. This same fanner gave him two fragments of gold said to have come from the same tomb: one of these fragments is a small decorated band, said to have been originally much longer but partly recycled to make a ring for the daughter of the fanner. Cumont thinks it once formed the handle of the goblet. As to the other fragment, the letter is not clear, but the later entry card in the museum (n° 3) describes it as a small gold cylinder. We also learn that the farmer said there was another tomb next to the one he explored and that he wanted to dig this up once his son returned from the war26. He continues by mentioning that the antiquary in fact became the godfather of the newly bom grandson of the farmer, a ploy to make sure more antiquities would come his way in the future.
  • N° 13: Two pages of handwritten notes, undated but obviously by Franz Cumont [Since these notes ended up in the archives of the Museum, it is very possible that they were given by Cumont to Mayence on the occasion of the latter’s visit to Paris to pick up the goblet on August 12, 1921, as referred to in Letter n° 7. They really form the source of the extra information given in n° 8]. Each of the three paragraphs is distinguished from the next by a line. In the first paragraph, mention is made of Cumont having shown the goblet to M. Chesneau who stated it was of pure gold. The second paragraph describes some technical details of the goblet and the stains caused by being in the earth for such a long time. The vase must have been crushed and then reshaped by those who found it. A third paragraph briefly mentions that the seller said the vase had been found in Platanitza (or Platanista) between Troezen and Mycenae, about three months ago.
  • N° 14: Three pages of handwritten notes, undated, on reused paper with heading ‘Comité international de secours immédiat aux éprouvés de la guerre, 1 Rue Montoy er, Bruxelles’. They are personal notes and not easily readable [Cumont had lived in Rue Montoyer 78 for some time but the notes seem rather in Mayence’s handwriting. They treat some details of the technique and the scene and seem to be random notes in view of a potential future publication].
  • N° 15: Folder with seven pages of typed notes by Paul Coremans, dated September 1936 with a technical report on the gold cup A.2249. It mentions the acquisition by MM. Fem., meaning Fernand Mayence, and Fr. Cumont in 1922 [an error for 1921] via a Greek merchant in Paris. Follows a detailed technical report on the size, weight, thickness of the various elements of the goblet as well as of the handle and cylinder, the welding, and a chemical analysis. It is compared with known analyses of Mycenaean and Egyptian gold at the time. It concludes with the question: is the goblet ancient? He states: “Il est infiniment probable que la piece est ancienne” for a number of reasons, the most convincing being “La presence de fer dans l’alliage même semble prouver de façon certaine l’authenticité de la piece, aucun alliage moderne affiné ne présentant cette impureté”.

3. The acquisition of the goblet: reconstructing the story

8Besides the actual inventory card of goblet A.2249 (n° 1), that of a gold strap A.2250 (n° 2), probably part of its handle, and the inventory card of a small gold cylinder A.2251 (n° 3), said to have been bought at the same time, the archives of the Royal Museums of Art at Brussels also comprise a series of letters and documents which allow us to follow the negotiations surrounding the purchase of the goblet (above n° 4-14). These different documents allow the following reconstruction.

  • 27 In fact, the Museum (now also known as Le Cinquantenaire or Jubelparkmuseum) only acquired this nam (...)

9The story starts with the Belgian scholar Cumont (1868-1947). Franz Cumont was a prodigious academic with an international reputation, especially known for his work on Roman religion and he had been a Professor at Ghent University. Before World War I already, he had left Belgium, disappointed by its academic system, settling in Paris and especially Rome, but keeping in touch with some of his friends, especially those at the Brussels’ Museum where he had worked until 1912 (Bonnet 1997). These friends included Jean Capart (1877-1947) and Fernand Mayence (1879-1959), two scholars who, in 1921, were both assistant curators of what would later be known as the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels27. Both of them would make brilliant careers in archaeology: Capart, best known as the father of Egyptology in Belgium, would eventually become director of the Royal Museums, as well as the excavator of El Kab, whereas Mayence, after having been a Belgian member of the French School in Athens (1904-1909), and an excavator on Delos, would become Professor at Louvain University. He would also, together with Cumont, start excavations in Apamea (Bonnet 1997: 32-33; Cumont archives CP6746).

10On Friday, July 8, 1921 (n° 4), Cumont contacted Capart informing him that he had been offered to buy a golden Mycenaean goblet, said to come from the Argolid, by a seller whose identity was not revealed but who would eventually turn out to be Greek (cf. n° 1). Cumont had shown the goblet to several reputable archaeologists in Paris at the time who all considered it to be genuine. The antiquities’ dealer who frequented Paris seemed to be in a hurry to sell and was ready to reduce his first asking price of 25.000 to 15.500 fr. The French and Belgian francs had identical values at the time and the amount would correspond to c. 17.000 € nowadays, a price considered by Cumont as being very reasonable for a work of this quality. Hence, although Cumont had left Belgium disgruntled ten years earlier, he seemed still to have been concerned that the Royal Museums – of which he himself had been curator – acquired a masterpiece.

11Capart answered enthusiastically four days later, this time in his own and Mayence’s name (n° 5), urging Cumont to take an option on the goblet while they were dealing with financial matters in Belgium. This implied convincing the chief curator, Eugene Van Overloop, but this had to wait since the latter was on holidays at the time, but they already managed to persuade his interim replacement.

12The next day already – postal services between Brussels and Paris seem to have been very efficient at the time – Cumont answered (n° 6), likewise enthusiastic, that he had convinced his brother to advance the required sum and that he now had the goblet in his possession, adding a sketch of the vase to the letter (fig. 7.6), and inquiring how they could get the goblet to Brussels.

13There is probably a letter missing between the 13th of July and the 8th of August in which either Capart but more probably Mayence must have answered Cumont stating that it would be Mayence who would be travelling to Paris to pick up the object. The next letter (n° 7) is again by Cumont fixing a rendezvous with Mayence for Friday the 12th of August to do the transfer and giving some more information on technical aspects of the goblet as well as analyses he had had done in the meantime.

14During their meeting on the 12th of August for which we have no record, Cumont may have handed over the goblet as well as some notes that ended up in the Museum (n° 13) and which are of considerable interest. It is not impossible that, because of the somewhat sensitive and personal information these notes contained, Cumont had not wanted to put these in an official letter. It is from these notes that we learn that the vase had actually been found in Platanitza (or Platanista) between Troezen and Mycenae about three months earlier – probably in April or May 1921. We may assume then that by the 15th of August 1921, the gold goblet would have made it to Brussels, probably in Mayence’s suitcase.

15This seems also clearly suggested by a letter from Van Overloop, the chief curator of the Museum and personal friend of Cumont, to the latter, dated August 20, 1921, in which he explicitly thanks him for the goblet and in which Mayence’s name is mentioned. We may assume that the latter informed his director orally of the affair.

16A letter by Mayence to Cumont in the latter’s archives in Rome, dated August 25, 1921, mentions how the goblet was appreciated by all who saw it in Brussels and Mayence also relates to him parts of the discussion he had with Wolfers on the technical aspects of the vase (Cumont archives CP6751).

17It is only on the 30th of October, however, that Mayence wrote to his director, Eugene Van Overloop (n° 8), giving a comprehensive account of the purchase of the goblet, with details that were included in the earlier letters (n° 4, n° 6, n° 7), the notes (n° 13) and the analysis by Wolfers referred to in the letter of August 25. There is also a mention that both Evans and Myres considered the goblet to be genuine – implying that their visit to Brussels must have been before the end of October. Mayence took great care to detail everything even though his director was already aware of the matter probably to leave a written trace so that his superior, who had also been an active prehistorian now with health problems, and who, at 74 years old, had already passed retirement age, needed such information to obtain the finances to reimburse Franz Cumont. It may also have been a way of avoiding sole responsibility if, in the future, the goblet was shown to be a forgery.

  • 28 This is the wife of his brother Eugène: Comtesse Laure du Monceau de Bergendal.
  • 29 Citing Joan Evans, Lapatin (2002: 215) mention show Evans apparently flew over to Paris in the autu (...)

18As to Evans’ expertise, there is a trace of this in a letter by Laure du Monceau28 to Capart, dated November 1, 1921 in which she relates Evans’ visit to the Museum where Mayence showed him the vase. Apparently Evans, who examined the goblet beneath a lamp, would have put its value at around 100.000 fr. She continues by saying that with him was another Englishman – who, she speculates, may have been called Mac Lod – and this could well have been Myres, who also appreciated the goblet29.

19The next note by Mayence (n° 9), on November 7, informs Van Overloop of the positive decision of the relevant committee to procure the finances to buy the goblet. Following this it was Van Overloop who wrote his relevant minister of Sciences and Arts, Xavier Neujean (le Jeune), in November 1921 to allow its acquisition (n° 10). The latter did so, less than a month later (n° 11).

20This would be the end of the affair were it not for an additional letter written by Cumont, again from Paris, on December 17, to Mayence perhaps as a reaction to an unknown letter he may have received from Mayence or Van Overloop thanking him in the minister’s name, as suggested in letter n° 11. In this last letter (n° 12), Cumont mentions having again met the seller of the goblet who seems to have bragged about his connection with the fanner who made the discovery, probably hoping for more antiquities in the future and mentioning more fragments from the same tomb, including a small decorated band. This band – although cut – was assumed to be part of the handle of the goblet. A final detail is the mention in this letter of at least one other tomb close to that which had yielded the goblet and which the farmer intended to dig up, suggesting the presence of a cemetery.

21Mayence answers this letter on December 27 (Cumont Archives CP6824), thanking him for his gracious offer and wondering when he could come to Paris to pick these additional items up. He also refers to the potential opening of a tomb in the same cemetery and hopes that the Museum would indirectly benefit from this again. He also begs Cumont, should he get a chance to do so, to ask the dealer where the village of Platanitsa actually is since he himself has failed to find it on any map.

  • 30 Letter from the Minister E. Hubert to Van Overloop dated March 22, 1922. The socle cost 380 francs (...)

22The three acquisition cards in the Museum are dated February 15 and 20, 1922, and apart from that of the goblet (n° 1), also describe the decorated band (n° 2) and a gold cylinder (n° 3), all said to come from the same tomb. There is no letter, however, detailing how these last two actually ended up in the Museum but the acquisition card n° 2 suggests that Cumont acquired them and ceded them freely to the Museum. A final letter by Van Overloop, dated March 10, 1922 (Cumont Archives CP6882), again thanks Cumont for his role in the purchase of the goblet. A week later another minister, E. Hubert, wrote to Van Overloop, commending him for the purchase of a marble stand to exhibit the goblet properly30. The final item of concern in this investigation is an expertise report on the goblet made in 1936 by P. Coremans (n° 15). Delvoye refers to this in his 1941 paper. It is very likely that Mayence had planned for some time to write a detailed paper on the goblet and that he and Capart asked for a detailed analysis from Coremans. Delvoye (1941: 85, n. 1) acknowledges this in his own paper.

4. The potential provenance of the goblet

23As mentioned, Bossert (1937: 43) published the first photograph of the goblet and suggested a possible Argolid origin, a provenance also defended by Delvoye (1941: 90) especially because the combination of lion and stag were largely seen as absent from Cretan iconography. We do not know if Delvoye was also aware of the correspondence and inventory card in the Museum which mentions the goblet’s alleged provenance from a tomb in the Argolid (n° 1). But from the correspondence there can be little doubt that it was ‘found’ by a Greek wine-grower who sold it to a Greek antiquary with multiple dealings in Paris. The explicit mention of the date of discovery – ‘three months before’ – and of the village of Platanitza (or Platanista), somewhere ‘between Mycenae and Troezen’, betrays considerable knowledge of the Argolid and is, I think, proof of the authenticity of the goblet since otherwise the original seller and dealer would surely have opted for a better-known site. Although there is no longer a village called Platanitza in the Argolid – there is one in Achaea –, there is still a hamlet nowadays called Platanitis (postal code 21055), part of the village of Haghia Triada, 10 km or two hours walk south of Mycenae. Moreover, a village called Platanitza, known as a source of serpentine in the region of Navplio, is briefly mentioned in a French geology book published in 1878 (Cordella 1878: 46) and a 1879 report on discoveries in the Argive plain discusses an inscription in a church at Platanitsa close to Merbaka (now called Haghia Triada) (Fig. 7.8), the village of which Platanitis now forms part (Milchhoefer 1879: 158). Thus there can be little doubt that the two toponyms, Platanitza/Platanitis are identical. In passing, we may stress another Belgian connection: Merbaka is said to derive from Moerbeke, the native Flemish village of William, a 13th c. Dominican, known for his translations, who became bishop at Corinth around AD 1280 (Sanders 2015).

  • 31 At least not in Hope Simpson 1965 (where Merbaka is indicated as Berbaka (sic) on figure 1) nor in (...)
  • 32 At least one tholos has been excavated at Tiryns as well as a chamber tomb cemetery at Profitis Ili (...)

24Platanitza/Platanitis, although in the heart of Argolis, is not known for its Mycenaean antiquities31. It is, however, about an hour’s walk north of Tiryns32 and less than one hour’s walk from Dendra. Here a cemetery, assumed to belong to the citadel of Midea which is located two further kilometres to the east, was excavated later during the 1920s. Its discovery occurred because Dorothy Burr, one of the members of the American team, digging at nearby Prosymna (Argive Heraion) happened to pass a group of peasants at Dendra in 1925. They were trying to clear a field, struggling with a large block which was identified as the lintel of a tholos tomb (Persson 1931: 8, corrected in Astrom 1983: 5). This untouched burial, known as the Royal Tomb of Dendra, was later excavated by Axel Persson and in later years, other graves – mostly chamber tombs – were explored by the Swedish mission. Persson (1931: 8) leaves no doubt that he thought the peasants knew before about the cemetery and he noted pillaging in Tomb n° 2 (Persson 1931: 74). His observations in the second Dendra volume are worth repeating:

  • 33 Franz Cumont, who reviewed this volume briefly in L’Antiquité Classique 13 (1944), 208-209, did not (...)

In the summer of 1937 Greek archaeologists were intensely interested in the so-called Dendra mystery, about which details could be acted from Greek legal acts. A peasant at Dendra, it was asserted, had found a large lechane of purest gold, which, however, had disappeared in some mysterious manner. When we Swedes were engaged in excavating at Berbati, I considered, after having consulted the competent authorities in Athens, that the occasion was favourable for an attempt to throw light on the matter by staying some time at Dendra in order to excavate a little more on the spot where, according to the villagers, the large gold vessel had been found (Persson 1942: 20)33.

  • 34 Davis 1977: 326. The MMA catalogue numbers for the first two objects – a gold kantharos (07.286.126 (...)

25Subsequent excavation at the particular spot did not yield anything of specific interest but did lead to the discovery of more chamber tombs several of which had been pillaged (Persson 1942: 21 Tomb n° 6; ib.: 53 Tomb n° 9). We may wonder whether this ‘large gold vessel’ could conceivably refer to the Brussels goblet. Illicit excavation of the cemetery, however, continued afterwards and was the reason for renewed exploration in the 1960s by Paul Åström. The latter mentions that, even during the excavations of the famous bronze cuirass tomb, looters tried to get into the dig (Åström 1977: 4, 7). During the 1962 campaign moreover, a jug left in place at night in one of the tombs (in trench D) was stolen (Åström 1983: 7). Illicit excavation really plagued Dendra, and Aström wondered if some objects in the antiques market did not come from its cemetery. He specifically refers to a bronze goblet incrusted with golden double axes, which was then in the hands of the London dealer Borovsky (Laffineur 1977: 116; see, however, Davis 1977: 120, n. 340, arguing for a Cretan origin; Thomas this volume) but also to two bronze swords he had seen in a catalogue from a Swiss antique dealer, said to come from the Argolid, and very similar to the ones found at Dendra by Persson (Åström 1972: 51 -52). Two gilded rivets from the systematic excavation of the cuirass tomb actually fitted one of the swords, which may imply that the looters were successful (Åström 1972: 49). Moreover, a bronze hydria acquired by the British Museum in the 1960s was also considered to come from the same tomb (Åström 1972: 50). Although the Brussels goblet is not referred to in Ellen Davis’ book on Minoan and Mycenaean gold ware, she does mention a fragmentary silver kantharos and a gold cup (said to have been found in the same, unknown place) (Davis 1977: 325-326), now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, as well as a gold cup, given by a certain Mr. Walter Baker, also in this same Museum. Mr. Baker bought this cup from an unknown dealer who said it was found at Mycenae in 1920, a date so close to our Brussels goblet that it may not be a coincidence34. All may hence potentially have originated in the Dendra cemetery. Finally, it may be instructive that many of the workmen employed during the Dendra and Midea excavations came from the nearby village of Merbaka (Åström 1983: 17), the village to which the hamlet Platanitza/Platanista belongs – closing the circle. Since the Dendra cemetery seems to have been used without interruption between Late Helladic IIA and Late Helladic IIIB1 (Åström 1983: 17), a LH IIA date for the goblet as suggested above fits the general use life of the cemetery. Moreover, the style of and the scene shown on the goblet are very much at home at Dendra.

Fig. 7.8. Map of Argolid (after Hope Simpson 1965: fig. 1, with Berbaka modified in Merbaka)

5. The Greek dealer?

  • 35 Unfortunately the parish archives of the village of Platanitis were destroyed in the 1930s (P. Ioss (...)
  • 36 Lapatin 2002 also mentions the names of a certain Floros, one Michalis Ritsos in Salonika and one D (...)
  • 37 He travelled by boat. Lapatin 2002: 23, 27 mentions how one story surrounding the arrival of the Bo (...)
  • 38 I thank P. Sotirakopoulou for this reference.
  • 39 See online/search.aspx for ‘Segredakis’ (8 hits), (...)
  • 40 Getz-Gentle 2008: 301 mentions Cycladic objects sold by Herbert Cahn in Basel, John (K. J.) Hewett (...)
  • 41 Here of course father (1850-1924) and son (1885-1939) Gilliéron may have potentially played a role. (...)

26It is nowadays almost impossible to identify the Greek antiquities’ dealer from whom Cumont bought the goblet and acquired the other fragments of gold but perhaps we can limit the number of possibilities and suggest a potential avenue for future research. We know this Greek dealer must have frequented Paris in 1921 quite often: in the correspondence preserved at the Royal Museum in Brussels, at least three visits are mentioned – the earlier purchase of the statuette of Hagesareta, the presentation and buying of the goblet, and the December meeting. Moreover, this same dealer also had dealings with the Feuardent firm before and he went to see Cumont, which means he may have been well acquainted with the archaeological world of the time and he knew that Cumont was buying antiquities. This dealer eventually would become the godfather of the grandson of the farmer who found the goblet35. The latter suggests perhaps some connection with the Argolid but this is not certain. Before and after World War I, several Greek antiquities’ dealers were active in Paris but only a few left traces in official records36. One of those was a certain M. Yannakopoulos who had a shop in Boulevard Malesherbes and who sold several antiquities (apparently mostly Egyptian) to the Louvre and the Brussels Museum in the period 1915-1921. The Louvre, however, as well as the Musée des Antiquités Nationales at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, also bought objects from an antiquities’ dealer of Cretan origin, a Manolis Segredakis (1891-1948). Bom in Tourkogeitonia in Archanes in a house which still stands above the archaeological site, Segredakis came from a poor family and left Crete in 1906 for Marseille37. He later went to Paris where he gradually made himself a name as an antiques’ dealer (Poumara 2008)38 in Rue St. Honoré, 191 and later in Rue Tronchet, 10, before moving to New York, but keeping a gallery in Paris. Segredakis was part of learned societies including the Etudes grecques. He was known as a benefactor of Greek artists, including Steris Gerasimos, but also other Greeks and family members and apparently he returned home frequently over the years. From 1914 onwards, already, some Greek antiquities (especially vases) in the Brussels Museum were acquired from Segredakis and this continued after 1920. Beginning in 1921, he was also providing the British Museum with antiquities39. In 1922, he had his two nephews join him and one of these was Nikos Koutoulakis (1910-1996), also from Archanes. Apparently it was only later, around 1930, that Segredakis and Koutoulakis would set up a real gallery whereas prior to this Segradakis was simply providing other gallery owners with antiquities. Ultimately, they would provide Christian Zervos with Cycladic objects and also Prince Paul of Greece and their shop would be frequented by people such as Giacometti and Picasso. But it was Nikos Koutoulakis whose name later frequently showed up in scandals on illicit traffic of antiquities including that of the Keros hoard (Getz-Preziosi 2001: 184). Personally, I think the Segredakis-Koutoulakis connection is probably the most promising albeit still unsubstantiated. It would explain, however, how, during the 1960s, more potential Dendra objects ended up in European museums40. Perhaps it is also telling that a story went around that Segredakis was giving gold rings to local girls (Pournara 2008), which may be a reference to the recut gold strip to be made into a ring for the farmer’s daughter. His many trips to and from Greece may have been hiding illegal transports of antiquities, provided by people working on Crete41. But there may have been other dealers and the fact that Segredakis was not explicitly mentioned in the letters, despite the fact that the Brussels Museum had been doing business with him before, may imply that yet another, unknown Greek seller in Paris was involved in the transaction.


  • 42 Lapatin 2002: 169-171: the end of 1923; see also G. Karo’s account ibidem and Butcher & Gill 1993 f (...)
  • 43 Bossert 1937: 4-5, who included the goblet in his re-edited ‘The Art of Ancient Crete’, remarks: “I (...)

27Is the Brussels gold goblet genuine? We know that many fake antiquities were in circulation especially after World War I and in the interbellum period; we also know of the potential Feuardent connection, and the fact that the date of the purchase of the goblet is very close in time to the one at which Leonard Woolley accompanied Arthur Evans on a visit to a group of Heraklion fakers of chryselephantine statues of Minoan divinities which were then flooding the antiquities’ market42. However, the results of the chemical analysis together with the information given in the correspondence between Franz Cumont, Fernand Mayence and Jean Capart makes it reasonable to accept the gold goblet from the Brussels Museum as genuine, since the village of Platanitsa in the Argolid is explicitly cited in the correspondence43. Hence, it may be that the goblet was robbed from a tomb in Dendra before this site became known by archaeologists. Finally, from a modem point of view, we may remark on the lack of ethical considerations in the acquisition of looted objects even amongst professional archaeologists at the time: the goblet was shown to an impressive series of Aegean scholars including Pottier, Babeion, Michon, Clermont Ganneau, Reinach, Evans and Myres, all of whom thought it to be genuine but do not seem to have complained about the loss of contextual information.



▪ Åström 1972 = P. Åström, A Midéa et Dendra, Archéologia 51 (oct. 1972), 44-52.

▪ Åström 1977 = P. Åström, The Cuirass Tomb and Other Finds at Dendra. Part I: The Chamber Tombs, (SIMA 4a), Göteborg (1977).

▪ Åström 1983 = P. Åström, The Cuirass Tomb and Other Finds at Dendra. Part II: Excavations in the Cemeteries, the Lower Town and the Citadel, (SIMA 4b), Göteborg (1983).

▪ Bonnet 1997 = C. Bonnet, La vie et l’œuvre de Franz Cumont: introduction biographique, in La correspondance scientifique de Franz Cumont conservée a l’Academia Belgica de Rome, edited by C. Bonnet, Brussels & Rome (1997), 1-67.

▪ Bonnet 2008 = C. Bonnet, Un Cumont pent en cacher un autre... A propos de l’appartenance de Franz Cumont a la tranc-maçonnerie, Anabases 8 (2008), 197-203.

▪ Bossert 1937 = H. T. Bossert, The Art of Ancient Greece. From the Earliest Times to the Iron Age, London (1937).

▪ Buchholz 1970 = H.G. Buchholz, Ägäische Kunst gefalscht, Acta Praehistorica et Archaeologica 1 (1970), 121-122.

▪ Butcher & Gill 1993 = K. Butcher & D. W. J. Gill, The director, the dealer, the goddess, and her champions: the acquisition of the Fitzwilliam goddess, AJA 97 (1993), 383-401.

▪ Cordella 1878 = A. Cordella, La Grèce sous le rapport géologique et minéralogique, Paris (1878).

▪ Davis 1977 = E. Davis, The Vapheio Cups and Aegean Gold and Silver Ware, New York & London (1977).

▪ Delvoye 1941 = Ch. Delvoye, La coupe en or préhellénique des Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Bulletin des Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire (1941), 85-92.

▪ Duchêne 2005 = H. Duchêne, « Nous n’étions pourtant pas si bêtes de croire a la tiare! » – Edmond Pottier, Salomon Reinach: deux amis dans l’epreuve, Journal des Savants 1: 1 (2005), 165-211.

▪ Getz-Gentle 2008 = P. Getz-Gentle, The Keros hoard revisited, AJA 112 (2008), 299-305.

▪ Getz-Preziosi 2001 = P. Getz-Preziosi, Personal Styles in Early Cycladic Sculpture, Madison (2001).

▪ Hope Simpson 1965 = R. Hope Simpson, A Gazetteer and Atlas of Mycenaean Sites, (BICS Supp. 16), London (1965).

▪ Hope Simpson & Dickinson 1979 = R. Hope Simpson & O.T.P.K. Dickinson, A Gazetteer of Aegean Civilisation in the Bronze Age, vol. I: The Mainland and Islands, (SIMA 52), Göteborg (1979).

▪ Karo 1930 = G. Karo, Schachtgräber von Mykenai. Text & Tafeln, Munich (1930).

▪ Kotzamani et alii 2008 = D. Kotzamani, V. Kantarelou, C. Sofou & A.-G. Karydas, The golden kylix inv. N° 2108 of the Benaki Museum: technical report, ΜΟYΣΕΙΟ ΜΠΕΝΑΚΙ 8 (2008), 39-61.

▪ Laffineur 1976 = R. Laffineur, A propos d’orfèvrerie mycénienne. Les tasses basses du type de Dendra, SMEA 17 (1976), 189-204.

▪ Laffineur 1976a = R. Laffineur, Cyclades, Crète, Mycènes, Chypre. Âge du Bronze, Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels (1976).

▪ Laffineur 1977 = R. Laffineur, Les Vases en metal précieux a l’époque mycénienne, (SIMA Pocket-Books 4), Goteborg (1977).

▪ Laffineur 1996 = R. Laffineur, Polychrysos Mykene. Toward a definition of Mycenaean goldwork, in Ancient Jewelry and Archaeology. Proceedings of the International Symposium ˊAncient Jewelry and Archaeology’ (Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana, 26-28 September 1991), edited by A. Calinescu, Bloomington & Indianapolis (1996), 89-116.

▪ Lapatin 2002 = K. Lapatin, Mysteries of the Snake Goddess. Art, Desire, and the Forging of History, Da Capo Press (2002).

▪ Marinatos 2015 = N. Marinatos, On the authenticity of the ’Minos Ring’: evidence from Spyridon Marinatos’ archives, in Ein Minoer im Exil. Festschrift fur Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, edited by D. Panagiotopoulos, I. Kaiser & O. Kouka (Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie 270), Bonn (2015), 271-280.

▪ Milchhoefer 1879 = A. Milchhoefer, Antikenbericht aus dem Peloponnes, MDAI 4 (1879), 121-176.

▪ Montens 2008 = V. Montens, Vers un musée des Antiquités a Bruxelles? Le musée du Cinquantenaire, in L’Antiquité au service de la Modernité? La reception de l’antiquité classique en Belgique au XIXe siècle. Actes du Colloque international organise du 27 au 29 avril 2005 a l’Université libre de Bruxelles et au Musée royal de Mariemont, edited by A. Tsingarida & A. Verbanck-Piérard (Lucernae novantiquae 3), Brussels (2008), 281-305.

▪ Papageorgiou 2008 = I. Papageorgiou, The Mycenaean golden kylix of the Benaki Museum. A dubitandum?, ΜΟYΣΕΙΟ ΜΠΕΝΑΚΙ 8 (2008), 9-37

▪ Persson 1931 = A.W. Persson, The Royal Tombs at Dendra near Midea, (Skrifter Utgivna av Kungl. Humanistika Vetenskapssam-fundet i Lund, xv), Lund (1931).

▪ Persson 1942 = A.W. Persson, New Tombs at Dendra near Midea, (Acta Societatis Litter. Lundensis, XXXIV), Lund & Leipzig (1942).

▪ Pournara 2008 = M. Pournara, Εμποροι αρχαίων σε χρυσές εποχές, Η ΚΑΘΗΜΕΡΙΝΗ 8.6.2008 (accessible at

▪ Rudolph 1973 = W. Rudolph, Die Nekropole am Prophitis Elias, in Tiryns VI, edited by U. Jantzen, Mainz am Rhein (1973), 23-126.

▪ Sanders 2015 = G. Sanders, William of Moerbeke’s church at Merbaka, Hesperia 84 (2015), 583-626.

▪ Stürmer 1995 = V. Stürmer, Gilliérons Minoisch-Mykenische Welt. Eine Ausstellung des Winckelmann-Instituts. Katalog, Berlin (1995).

▪ Thomas 2004 = N.R. Thomas, The Early Mycenaean Lion up to date, in XAPIΣ: Essays in Honor of Sara A. Immerwahr, edited by A. Chapin (Hesperia Supp. 33), (2004), 161-206.

▪ Younger 1978 = J.G. Younger, The Mycenae-Vapheio Lion Group, AJA 82: 3 (1978), 285-299.


1 Acknowledgements: I sincerely thank Natacha Massar, curator of Greek antiquities at the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, for providing documents, photographs and advice with regard to the Brussels goblet (inv. nr. A.2249). Photographs are by Raoul Pessemier of the Brussels Museum or by the author. I also thank Mr. Grégory Hardy, draughtsperson at the Region wallonne, for the original new drawings of the goblet and for interesting discussions on the technical aspects of the goblet. Thanks are also due to C. Bonnet, L. Costaki, F. de Callataÿ, S. Dederix, M. Devolder, C. Doyen, E. Druart, C. Evers, A. Farnoux, C. Flament, F. Gaignerot, Y. Galanakis, P. Gentle, P. Iossif, S. Jusseret, R. Laffineur, K. Lapatin, M. Lemon, Q. Letesson, I. Papageorgiou, P. Sotirakopoulou and F. Van Haeperen, for useful information. Special thanks go to N. Thomas and N. Massar for discussion and editing. None of these are, evidently, responsible for the opinions expressed here nor for the errors that remain.

2 See, e.g. Laffineur 1976, 1977 and 1996, as well as the many papers on gold and silver wares by Laffineur mentioned in the contribution of Richard Veymiers to this volume.

3 The goblet is shown by Bossert (1937: 18,43, plate 69) but is absent, for example, from Davis’ (1977) detailed study on Mycenaean gold and silver ware nor is it mentioned by Åström (1972; 1977) in his detailed analysis of some of the Dendra gold vessels.


5 In one of the letters (n° 8, see below), Mayence tries to explain this oddity using an analysis by Wolfers (see below); Davis 1977: 8.

6 The Benaki goblet, for example, is almost pure gold, which may be an argument against its genuineness (Kotzamani et alii 2008: 47; also for other analyses).

7 I thank N. Thomas for drawing my attention to this parallel.

8 Correspondence on June 7, 1919 (CP6301) between Cumont and Capart in the Cumont archives at the Academia Belgica and other documents in the Brussels Museum refer to this marble ‘Greek statuette’ which was apparently bought by Cumont in 1917 for Paul Hymans, minister of state, and kept for a while at the Brussels Museum.

9 Feuardent frères (formerly Feuardent & Rollin) was a dealer in antiquities in Paris founded in the 19th c., specialising in ancient coins and antiquities. In the 1920s, it was run by three brothers Antoine, Georges and Robert. They also edited the Revue Numismatique until 1937. The firm existed till 1953. Their judgment may not always have been reliable, however. George Feuardent was also involved in the sale of two alleged Minoan ivories to the Baltimore collector Henry Walters (Lapatin 2002: 92) as well as other antiquities.

10 Edmond Pottier (1855-1934) was a French archaeologist, member of the French School at Athens and conservator of the Louvre of which he published the first Corpus vasorum antiquorum of Greek vases.

11 Etienne Michon (1865-1939) was a member of the French School at Rome and conservator of the Louvre.

12 I am not entirely sure which Babeion is meant here: Ernest Babeion (1854-1924) or Jean Babeion (1889-1978) since both where active numismatists in the 1920s and conservators of the Cabinet des médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale but I guess the last one.

13 Charles Clermond-Ganneau (1846-1923) was a French archaeologist who travelled extensively. Through his offices the Louvre acquired part of the Parthenon frieze as well as several Minoan antiquities. He was also known as someone who unravelled several archaeological frauds.

14 Although this could either indicate Salomon Reinach (1858-1932) or Theodore Reinach (1860-1930) since both were well-known archaeologists, Theodore had by then turned to politics whereas Salomon, member of the French School at Athens, became director of the Museum of National Antiquities at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. He repeatedly argued for the genuineness of several antiquities that later were shown to be frauds, including the tiara mentioned in note 15.

15 Pushed by Reinach and Pottier, the tiara of Saïtapharnes had been bought at great cost by the Louvre and was later proven to be a forgery (cf. Duchene 2005).

16 Franz Philippson (1851-1929), director of the homonymous bank, known benefactor of museums and academia in Belgium. The Friends of the Museum were established in 1906.

17 Eugène van Overloop (1847-1926), apart from being a known prehistorian, was chief conservator of the Royal Museums of Art and History during the first quarter of the 20th c. (see especially Montens 2008).

18 Alfred Baron de Loë (1858-1947) was conservator at the Royal Museums and founded the Belgian archaeological service in 1903 of which he was the first director.

19 It is very likely that reference is made here to the statuette of Hagesareta but I was unable to find a piece corresponding to this label.

20 No doubt his brother Fernand, with whom he shared the apartment at 3, Boulevard de Courcelles in Paris from where the letters were written. Fernand was an engineer. On their relation, see e.g. Bonnet 2008.

21 Probably referring to the Maison Wolfers in Brussels, famous for its gold jewellery since 1812 and with close connections to the Royal Museums.

22 Sir Arthur J. Evans (1851-1941), known for his excavations at Knossos and father of Minoan archaeology. He did, however, consider quite a few things genuine that later were considered to be forgeries (cf. Lapatin 2002; Marinatos 2015).

23 Sir John L. Myres (1869-1954), famous British archaeologist who worked on Crete and Cyprus.

24 Gabriel Chesneau (1859-1937), professor of chemistry and director of the École des Mines in Paris (1918-1929).

25 This is Xavier Neujean (known as ‘le jeune’) (1865-1940), minister of public works between 1920 and 1925.

26 This refers to the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922.

27 In fact, the Museum (now also known as Le Cinquantenaire or Jubelparkmuseum) only acquired this name officially in 1929, being known previously as the Musée d’Armes anciennes, d’Armures, d’Objets d’Art et de Numismatique, then as the Musée royal d Armures, d’Antiquités et d’Ethnologie, the Musées royaux des Arts décoratifs et industriels and, at the time of our story, as the Musées royaux du Cinquantenaire (cf. Montens 2008, with details on the history of the collection of antiquities).

28 This is the wife of his brother Eugène: Comtesse Laure du Monceau de Bergendal.

29 Citing Joan Evans, Lapatin (2002: 215) mention show Evans apparently flew over to Paris in the autumn of 1921, perhaps to acquire antiquities. The Brussels visit may have been connected to this.

30 Letter from the Minister E. Hubert to Van Overloop dated March 22, 1922. The socle cost 380 francs and was bought from the Maison Mathieu in the Rue de la Loi.

31 At least not in Hope Simpson 1965 (where Merbaka is indicated as Berbaka (sic) on figure 1) nor in Hope Simpson & Dickinson 1979.

32 At least one tholos has been excavated at Tiryns as well as a chamber tomb cemetery at Profitis Ilias, 20 minutes’ walk east of Tiryns (cf. Rudolph 1973). This cemetery was also in use from LH I onwards but mostly dates to LH IIIA-B but very few graves comprised wealthy objects, however. Moreover, the site of Tiryns (in contrast to Dendra) was already well-known through the work of Schliemann and Dörpfeld. If the goblet had been found near Tiryns surely the name of this site would have been given by the farmer.

33 Franz Cumont, who reviewed this volume briefly in L’Antiquité Classique 13 (1944), 208-209, did not make any comment on its potential link with the Brussels goblet, however.

34 Davis 1977: 326. The MMA catalogue numbers for the first two objects – a gold kantharos (07.286.126) and a silver kantharos with electrum handles (07.286.128.a.b) – are so different from that of the gold cup (61.71) found in 1920 that there is probably no connection. The online catalogue mentions 1961 as the date the gold cup entered the museum, however, whereas the gold and silver kantharoi seem to have been acquired already in 1907 (Rogers Fund).

35 Unfortunately the parish archives of the village of Platanitis were destroyed in the 1930s (P. Iossif, pers. com.).

36 Lapatin 2002 also mentions the names of a certain Floros, one Michalis Ritsos in Salonika and one D. Simiriotti in Paris as well-known antiquities’ dealers. Whether the latter was related to Alexandros Simiriotti, a well-known photographer of antiquities in Athens at the time, I don’t know. Marinatos 2015 also mentions a series of Cretans potentially implicated in the local antiquities’ market.

37 He travelled by boat. Lapatin 2002: 23, 27 mentions how one story surrounding the arrival of the Boston chryselephantine goddess was that she arrived by boat in the luggage of a Greek emigrant...

38 I thank P. Sotirakopoulou for this reference.

39 See online/search.aspx for ‘Segredakis’ (8 hits), including a Minoan axe and a bronze statuette of Athena, acquired in 1922. Some letters by Segredakis in the Spyridon Marinatos’ archives at the Gennadeion Library Archives in Athens dating to the 1930s also refer to the antiquities’ market and his wish to set up shop in Athens. Marinatos was not forthcoming. I thank Leda Costaki for this information.

40 Getz-Gentle 2008: 301 mentions Cycladic objects sold by Herbert Cahn in Basel, John (K. J.) Hewett in London, and C. Dikran Kelekian, J.J. Klejman, and Matthias Komor in New York.

41 Here of course father (1850-1924) and son (1885-1939) Gilliéron may have potentially played a role. For the Gillierons contribution see especially Stürmer 1995 and S. Hemingway historic-images-of-the-greek-bronze-age.

42 Lapatin 2002: 169-171: the end of 1923; see also G. Karo’s account ibidem and Butcher & Gill 1993 for a detailed account of some other forgeries dating to the early 1920s. On Aegean falsifications see also Buchholz 1970.

43 Bossert 1937: 4-5, who included the goblet in his re-edited ‘The Art of Ancient Crete’, remarks: “I hope that this edition distinguishes itself in one respect from the two preceding ones: I took special care to omit doubtful objects and fakes.... It was a difficult and responsible task to decide which to include as genuine.... It is less dangerous to omit genuine objects than to let fakes slip in which would have blurred the characteristic style of the whole epoch”. His book does not include any of the chryselephantine statuettes nor the Benaki goblet. Bossert refers to Georg Karo’s expert knowledge and Karo – and with him Spyridon Marinatos – were ferocious fighters against fakes and trade in antiquities. See especially Marinatos 2015on this.

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 7.1. Brussels Goblet: Lion side (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA151233_A.2249)
Fichier image/jpeg, 32k
Légende Fig. 7.2. Brussels Goblet: Deer side (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA151913_A.2249)
Fichier image/jpeg, 23k
Légende Fig. 7.3. Brussels Goblet: Rivet holes (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA163404_A.2249)
Fichier image/jpeg, 27k
Légende Fig. 7.4. Brussels Goblet: inside basin (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 15RA161215_A.2249)
Fichier image/jpeg, 20k
Légende Fig. 7.5. Brussels Goblet: detail of foot and stem (photo by R. Pessemier ©RMAH, n° 1 5RA163315_A.2249)
Fichier image/jpeg, 27k
Légende Fig. 7.6. Brussels Goblet: sketch by F. Cumont in a letter of July 13, 1921 to J. Capart (photo author)
Fichier image/jpeg, 140k
Légende Fig. 7.7. Brussels Goblet and roll-out of scene (drawing by Grégory Hardy)
Fichier image/jpeg, 49k
Légende Fig. 7.8. Map of Argolid (after Hope Simpson 1965: fig. 1, with Berbaka modified in Merbaka)
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k

© Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2016

Conditions d’utilisation :

Cette publication numérique est issue d’un traitement automatique par reconnaissance optique de caractères.
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search