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From Boston to Rome: Reflections on Returning Antiquities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2007

David Gill
Centre for Egyptology and Mediterranean Archaeology, School of Humanities, University of Wales Swansea. Email:
Christopher Chippindale
Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Email:


The return of 13 classical antiquities from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) to Italy provides a glimpse into a major museum's acquisition patterns from 1971 to 1999. Evidence emerging during the trial of Marion True and Robert E. Hecht Jr. in Rome is allowing the Italian authorities to identify antiquities that have been removed from their archaeological contexts by illicit digging. Key dealers and galleries are identified, and with them other objects that have followed the same route. The fabrication of old collections to hide the recent surfacing of antiquities is also explored.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The authors are grateful to the following for their assistance during the writing of this paper: Malcolm Bell, Ann Copeland (La Trobe University), Tracey Cullen, Colin Hope (Monash University), Andrew Jamieson (University of Melbourne), Ian MacPhee (La Trobe University), Jessica Powers (San Antonio Museum of Art), Sonia Puttock (University of Queensland), Peter Watson, and Karol Wight (The J. Paul Getty Museum).

Research Article
© 2006 International Cultural Property Society

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