Monday, February 20, 2012

Origin of ancient mosaics at BGSU suspect

Dr. Stephanie Langin-Hooper, Assistant Professor of Ancient Art History, kneels near ancient mosaics at the Wolfe Center at Bowling Green State University, Tuesday. THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge | Photo Reprints

BOWLING GREEN — BOWLING GREEN — A dozen mosaics from ancient Turkey that recently received a new, dramatic home at Bowling Green State University may be looted bounty.

Dating to the second or third century, the mosaics were restored and installed in the floor of the Wolfe Center for the Arts, which opened in December. They're lit and covered with thick protective glass.

Made with tiny pieces of chiseled stone and glass to depict birds and faces, the mosaics at first were believed to have been from authorized excavations overseen by Princeton University in Antioch, Turkey, that were carefully photographed, named, and catalogued. Eleven measure 12 inches by 12 inches, but one is 2 feet by 3 feet.

They were purchased for $35,000 in 1965 at the suggestion of former art faculty member Hugh Broadley with the blessing of then-BGSU president William Jerome. Both men are deceased. Letters settling details for the purchase 47 years ago indicate they were from Antioch, Turkey. There's apparently no information, however, about why such an unusual purchase was made for BGSU nor how it was paid for.

A new faculty member planning to write a paper about the works first questioned their origin several weeks ago.

Stephanie Langin-Hooper, assistant professor of ancient art history, found disturbingly little paperwork about the purchase. "I became a little concerned. Some of the details and information was not as much as I was expecting," Ms. Langin-Hooper said.

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