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International Experts Will Join Study of Cult Statue of a Goddess

March 8, 2007

LOS ANGELES— The J. Paul Getty Museum announced today that it is convening an international group of scientists, archaeologists, and art historians to further research the origins of the Cult Statue of a Goddess, an object in the Museum’s collection often referred to as the "Aphrodite," which has been claimed by the Italian Ministry of Culture.

In a statement issued by the Getty last November, Michael Brand, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, said that the Museum is prepared to transfer full title to the Cult Statue to Italy, but he indicated that the Museum would take up to a year to complete the proposed research.  The Museum originally offered to conduct this research jointly with the Italian Ministry of Culture while sharing ownership of the statue, an approach that the Ministry rejected. 

The workshop will be held in Los Angeles on May 9 and will define a research project that will include the scientific analysis of the small amounts of pollen and soil that were removed from the statue during its cleaning at the time of acquisition, as well as additional stone analysis to supplement the research also done at that time.  The art historians and archaeologists will work to narrow the geographic area in which the scientists will focus their comparative analyses.

 "The questions and allegations surrounding the statue’s origins are complex and often contradictory.  Our role as responsible stewards demands that we examine these questions in greater detail," said Brand.  "We look forward to the opportunity to work with our international colleagues to shed more light on this subject."

Dr. Brand has extended invitations to both the Italian Minister of Culture and the Sicilian Regional Minister of Culture and Environmental Heritage to send representatives to participate in the workshop.  Experts in the fields of archaeology and art history, and scientists who are specialists in stone, soil, and pollen analysis have already agreed to participate.

Participants include:
Clemente Marconi
James R. McCredie Professor of Greek Art and Archaeology
Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Expertise: Archaic and Classical Greek Sculpture and the Archaeology of Ancient Sicily.

Malcolm Bell, III
Professor of Art History
University of Virginia
Co-director, U.S. excavations at Morgantina
Expertise: Greek art and archaeology, with a particular interest in Greek Sicily

Dr. Pamela I. Chester
Archaeological Palynologist
New Zealand

John Twilley
Art Conservation Scientist
New York
Expertise: analysis of ancient materials

Professor Rosario Alaimo
Professor of Geochemistry
University of Palermo
Expertise: geochemistry and limestone characteristics

The workshop itself is closed, but the Getty Museum plans to publish the study on its website when the scientific analyses have been completed and the results peer-reviewed for validity by independent experts.

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Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications Dept.

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