Thursday, March 16, 2006

 

Hunt on for satyr's 'brothers'

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ANSA
March 14, 2006




Special equipment scours seabed where ancient bronze found
Palermo - The hunt is on for the 'brothers' of a 2,400-year-old bronze satyr fished out of the sea off Sicily seven years ago .

"We are sure there are similar objects down there," said Sicily's maritime culture chief Sebastiano Tusa .

The Sicilian regional government has contacted top Italian fuels group Eni to tap into its experience laying underwater cables .

"They've provided us with special equipment that should enable us to find the satyr's brothers," Tusa said .

The official said Eni's dredging probes had already enabled specialists to locate the wreck of a IV century AD Roman ship that will be raised from the sea floor in the next few weeks .

The Dancing Satyr, retrieved from the waters of the Sicilian Channel in March 1998, was the star attraction at the Italian pavilion at Japan's major cultural and trade event last year, the World Expo 2005 .

It attracted some 10,000 visitors a day and helped make the Italy pavilion the second most popular after the host nation's. The 2m-high figure, found by a crew from the fishing port Mazara del Vallo south of Trapani, is one of Italy's most important marine archaeological finds ever - second only to the famed Riace Bronzes .

The satyr's origin is still a riddle .

Some think it is the work of the fabled ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles but others believe it is a Roman copy .

While missing both arms and one leg, its cocked head, tossed hair, torso and bounding leg are remarkably well-preserved .

It is thought to have been part of a group of statues of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and fertility, with other satyrs, fauns and mythological creatures .

Art restorers spent four years cleaning the sculpture and fitting it with a steel bracing to help it stand upright .

Thousands flocked to see it when it went on display in Rome in 2004 and museums such as the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York have been clamouring for the piece ever since .

But Sicilian politicians including officials in Mazara del Vallo, which is now home to the statue, have argued against lending the statue out .

Restorers have also underscored the risks and difficulties involved in transporting the statue, particularly abroad .

Mazara del Vallo Mayor Nicolo' Vella proposed making a copy of the statue to send in its stead to world venues .

But the prestige of the World Expo and the measures taken to ensure that the priceless satyr came to no harm convinced critics that the statue should be allowed to visit Japan .

The last find to spark as much excitement as the satyr were the Riace Bronzes, a pair of breathtaking fifth-century BC Greek sculptures of warriors, found in the sea in 1972 and now housed in a museum in the southern city of Reggio Calabria .


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