forgery / sculpture
Relief, basalt figure of a seated, bearded Heracles wearing a scaled breast-plate and holding a baton and stone tablet; forged Greek inscription behind figure.
- Height: 26 inches
- Width: 15 inches
- Depth: 9.5 inches
Object shows Renaissance influence; comments by Paulasca in Getty Museum Journal (1980), p.146.Jones 1990
Seated figure: Hellenistic sculpture or modern fake?
This Moses-like figure is one of a group of statues acquired by the British Museum in 1908, said to have been found by workers building the railway to Mecca in a tower near Ma'an in southern Jordan. At the time they were accepted as genuine, if unusual 'Hellenistic' pieces dating from the third to first centuries BC.
It is now thought that the Greek inscription above the right shoulder is modern and that the figure itself shows knowledge of Renaissance and baroque European sculpture. For these reasons this statue is now generally considered to be a fake. In the absence of any scientific process by which such stone statues can be dated, or of definite evidence that there was a modern workshop producing stone carving of this quality in the area of northern Jordan/southern Syria from which this black basalt comes, an element of doubt remains.
1961, BM, Dept of P&D, 'Forgeries and Deceptive Copies'
Good / fair.
Trustees Minutes 11th April 1908 - said to have been found by builders of the Mecca Railway near Maan in a small tower on a hill through which the line had to run.
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Object reference number: WCO85449
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