The Director, the Dealer, the Goddess, and Her Champions: The Acquisition of the Fitzwilliam Goddess

K. Butcher, D. W. J. Gill

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The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge acquired a marble statue of a ''Cretan goddess'' in 1926. It had been authenticated by Sir Arthur Evans and was subsequently published by A.J.B. Wace. This paper investigates the way that this object came to be accepted as genuine and throws light on the creation of Minoan forgeries in the 1920s during the completion of Evans's reconstructions at Knossos. In many of these cases the matter of authenticity has never been satisfactorily resolved, although the debate surrounding the authenticity of the Fitzwilliam Goddess is now over. Initiatives by the Fitzwilliam's Syndicate and, in particular, its director, Sydney Cockerell, ensured that the goddess did not enjoy quite as much success as some of the other pieces that appeared in the 1920s. This case study also raises questions concerning the use of unusual but unprovenanced objects as archaeological data in the reconstruction of the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-401
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Archaeology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1993

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