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Statue of Hercules from Hatra

Statue of Hercules from Hatra


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Statue of Heracles, Arcachon

A Statue of Heracles stands in the Parc Mauresque in Arcachon, Gironde. It was installed in 1948 to commemorate the actions of the French Resistance in fighting German occupying forces during the Second World War. The statue, by local sculptor Claude Bouscau, stands 3.1 metres (10 ft) tall and depicts the Ancient Greek hero Heracles after his defeat of the Nemean lion. On two occasions shortly after its installation Bouscau reduced the size of the statue's penis, following complaints from local women. The penis of the statue was frequently stolen. In 2016 the city council decided it would not be replaced permanently but that a temporary penis would be installed when public events were held near the statue.

The city of Arcachon, Gironde sought to commemorate the efforts of the French Resistance during the Second World War. Locally-born sculptor Claude Bouscau was asked to design a sculpture to stand in the city's Parc Mauresque ("Moorish Park"). [1] [2] Bouscau proposed two reliefs depicting the figures of "Victory" and "Resistance" together with a fire bowl. The city rejected this proposal as too expensive. Bouscau instead proposed that one of his existing works, a statue of the Greek hero Heracles, be erected. [2]

The 3.1-metre (10 ft) high marble sculpture depicted Heracles triumphing over the Nemean lion, the first of his twelve labours, which would stand for the allied victory over Nazi Germany. The statue had been completed by Bouscau in Italy before the war and its model was an opponent of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. It depicts Heracles naked apart from the pelt of the lion, which he wears on his head, in the manner of a cape. His right hand holds, behind his back, the club he used to daze the animal while his right hand holds two snakes. The Heracles statue was approved and inaugurated in the park on 22 August 1948. [2] Soon after its installation Bouscau twice reduced the size of the statue's penis, following complaints from local ladies that it was too large. This despite Heracles being regarded as a symbol of virility by the Ancient Greeks. [1]

The penis of the statue has been stolen and not recovered on numerous occasions. [3] When it was stolen in June 2010 it took until January 2011 for a replacement to be installed. [2] By 2016 the mayor's office had a mould of the penis from which replacements were cast. [4] In 2016 the mayor, Yves Foulon, stated "I wouldn't want anyone - not even my worst enemies - to go through what happens to this statue" and the absence of the penis caused embarrassment to the council during some ceremonies held at the statue. [5]

In 2016 it was decided by the council to not replace the penis. Instead a detachable penis was fabricated and it would only be installed during public events held at the statue. The deputy mayor Martine Phellipot was inspired to commission the detachable penis by her medical background. She noted "We chose the option of making a removable prosthesis which is placed on the statue before each ceremony. It’s the only way to avoid constantly chasing after his anatomy". [1] The detachable penis was made by Thomas Castelnau an artist employed by the city council. [6] The penis screws into the statue when it is absent only a thin metal rod remains. [1] [6]


Contents

According to Greek mythology adopted by the Etruscans and Romans, when Hercules had to perform twelve labours, one of them (the tenth) was to fetch the Cattle of Geryon of the far West and bring them to Eurystheus this marked the westward extent of his travels. A lost passage of Pindar quoted by Strabo was the earliest traceable reference in this context: "the pillars which Pindar calls the 'gates of Gades' when he asserts that they are the farthermost limits reached by Heracles". [2] Since there has been a one-to-one association between Heracles and Melqart since Herodotus, the "Pillars of Melqart" in the temple near Gades/Gádeira (modern Cádiz) have sometimes been considered to be the true Pillars of Hercules. [3]

Plato placed the mythical island of Atlantis beyond the "Pillars of Hercules". [4] Renaissance tradition says the pillars bore the warning Ne plus ultra (also Non plus ultra, "nothing further beyond"), serving as a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further. [5]

According to some Roman sources, [6] while on his way to the garden of the Hesperides on the island of Erytheia, Hercules had to cross the mountain that was once Atlas. Instead of climbing the great mountain, Hercules used his superhuman strength to smash through it. By doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and formed the Strait of Gibraltar. One part of the split mountain is Gibraltar and the other is either Monte Hacho or Jebel Musa. These two mountains taken together have since then been known as the Pillars of Hercules, though other natural features have been associated with the name. [7]

Diodorus Siculus, however, held that, instead of smashing through an isthmus to create the Straits of Gibraltar, Hercules "narrowed" an already existing strait to prevent monsters from the Atlantic Ocean from entering the Mediterranean Sea. [8]

In some versions, Heracles instead built the two to hold the sky away from the earth, liberating Atlas from his damnation. [9]

Beyond Gades, several important Mauretanian colonies (in modern-day Morocco) were founded by the Phoenicians as the Phoenician merchant fleet pushed through the Pillars of Hercules and began constructing a series of bases along the Atlantic coast starting with Lixus in the north, then Chellah and finally Mogador. [10]

Near the eastern shore of the island of Gades/Gadeira (modern Cádiz, just beyond the strait) Strabo describes [11] the westernmost temple of Tyrian Heracles, the god with whom Greeks associated the Phoenician and Punic Melqart, by interpretatio graeca. Strabo notes [12] that the two bronze pillars within the temple, each eight cubits high, were widely proclaimed to be the true Pillars of Hercules by many who had visited the place and had sacrificed to Heracles there. But Strabo believes the account to be fraudulent, in part noting that the inscriptions on those pillars mentioned nothing about Heracles, speaking only of the expenses incurred by the Phoenicians in their making. The columns of the Melqart temple at Tyre were also of religious significance.

Syriac scholars were aware of the Pillars through their efforts to translate Greek scientific works into their language as well as into Arabic. The Syriac compendium of knowledge known as Ktaba d'ellat koll 'ellan (The Cause of All Causes) is unusual in asserting that there were three, not two, columns. [13]

In Inferno XXVI Dante Alighieri mentions Ulysses in the pit of the Fraudulent Counsellors and his voyage past the Pillars of Hercules. Ulysses justifies endangering his sailors by the fact that his goal is to gain knowledge of the unknown. After five months of navigation in the ocean, Ulysses sights the mountain of Purgatory but encounters a whirlwind from it that sinks his ship and all on it for their daring to approach Purgatory while alive, by their strength and wits alone.

The Pillars appear as supporters of the coat of arms of Spain, originating in the impresa of Spain's sixteenth century king Charles I, who was also the Holy Roman Emperor as Charles V. It was an idea of the Italian humanist Luigi Marliano. [14] It bears the motto Plus Ultra, Latin for further beyond, implying that the pillars were a gateway. This was modified from the phrase Nec plus ultra, Nothing more beyond after the discovery of the Americas, which laid to rest the idea of the Pillars of Hercules as the westernmost extremity of the inhabitable world which had prevailed since Antiquity.

The Pillars appear prominently on the engraved title page of Sir Francis Bacon's Instauratio Magna ("Great Renewal"), 1620, an unfinished work of which the second part was his influential Novum Organum. The motto along the base says Multi pertransibunt et augebitur scientia ("Many will pass through and knowledge will be the greater"). The image was based on the use of the pillars in Spanish and Habsburg propaganda.

On the Spanish coast at Los Barrios are Torres de Hercules which are twin towers that were inspired by the Pillars of Hercules. These towers were the tallest in Andalusia until Cajasol Tower was completed in Seville in 2015.

In the southern wall of the National Autonomous University of Mexico's Central Library, the mural Historical Representation of Culture, created by the artist Juan O'Gorman, portrays a depiction of the Pillars of Hercules as an allusion to the colonial past of Mexico and the house of Charles V. [15]

Spain, having reached the so-called New World, changed the original "Non plus ultra" to "Plus ultra" as recoded in its coat of arms meaning the opening to a new era of geographical discoveries.


The J. Paul Getty Museum

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Statue of Hercules (Lansdowne Herakles)

Unknown 193.5 × 77.5 × 73 cm, 385.5575 kg (76 3/16 × 30 1/2 × 28 3/4 in., 850.0001 lb.) 70.AA.109

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Object Details

Title:

Statue of Hercules (Lansdowne Herakles)

Artist/Maker:
Culture:
Places:

Roman Empire (Place Created)

Hadrian's Villa, northern area, near the Casino Fede, Tivoli, Italy (Place Found)

Medium:
Object Number:
Dimensions:

193.5 × 77.5 × 73 cm, 385.5575 kg (76 3/16 × 30 1/2 × 28 3/4 in., 850.0001 lb.)

Credit Line:
Alternate Title:

The Lansdowne Hercules (Display Title)

Department:
Classification:
Object Type:
Object Description

The Greek hero Herakles carries a club over his left shoulder and holds a lionskin in his right hand. These objects help identify the figure, since Herakles was often depicted with a club and the skin of the Nemean Lion, which he killed as his first labor. As is typical for depictions of Greek heroes, the young Herakles is shown nude, since the Greeks considered male nudity to be the highest form of beauty. No other god or hero is as frequently depicted in Greek and Roman art as is Herakles.

The Lansdowne Herakles very likely was inspired by a lost Greek statue, probably from the school of Polykleitos from the 300s B.C. Found in 1790 near the ruins of the villa of the Roman emperor Hadrian at Tivoli outside Rome, this statue was one of numerous copies of Greek sculpture commissioned by Hadrian, who loved Greek culture. One of J. Paul Getty's most prized acquisitions, the statue gets its name from Lord Lansdowne, who once owned the Herakles and displayed it in his home in London. Areas of restoration include the statue's lower left leg and parts of both arms.

Related Works
Related Works
Provenance
Provenance

Found: Hadrian's Villa, northern area, near the Casino Fede, Tivoli, Italy (first recorded in Dallaway 1800)

Thomas Jenkins (Rome, Italy), sold to William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1792.

1792 - 1805

William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 2nd earl of Shelburne, 1st marquess of Lansdowne, 1737 - 1805 (Lansdowne House, London, England), acquired from his estate by his son, John Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1805.

1805 - 1809

John Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1765 - 1809 (Lansdowne House, London, England), by inheritance to his wife, Mary Arabella Petty, 1809.

1809 - 1810

Mary Arabella Petty, marchioness of Lansdowne, died 1833 (Lansdowne House, London, England), sold to her brother-in-law, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1810.

1810 - 1863

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd marquess of Lansdowne, 1780 - 1863 (Lansdowne House, London, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1863.

1863 - 1866
1866 - 1927
1927 - 1936

Henry William Edmund Petty-Fitzmaurice, 6th marquess of Lansdowne, British, 1872 - 1936 (Bowood House, Wiltshire, England) [offered for sale, The celebrated collection of ancient marbles: property of the most honourable the Marquess of Lansdowne, Christie's, March 5, 1930, lot 34, bought back into the Lansdowne Collection and transferred to Bowood House, Wiltshire, England.], by inheritance to his heirs, 1936.

1936 - 1944
1944 - 1951
1951 - 1970

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976 (Sutton Place, Surrey, England), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1970.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence (December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999)
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
Bibliography
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Stourton, James. Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (London: Scala, 2007), pp. 124-25.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. 8-9, ill.

Mattusch, Carol C., et al., eds. Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, with Thames & Hudson, 2008), p. 83, fig. 12.

Gallazzi, Claudio, Barbel Kramer, and Salvatore Settis, eds. Il Papiro di Artemidoro (Milan: Edizioni Universitaire di Lettere Economia Diritto, 2008), p. 574, fig. 5.44.

Levkoff, Mary. L. "Hearst and the Antique." Apollo (October 2008), 53-59.

Calcani, Giuliana. Skopas di Paros (Rome: G. Bretschneider, 2009), pp. 19-20, 48, 65.

Brand, M., "Home and Away. Works of Art as Citizens and Migrants" In Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration and Convergence, edited by J. Anderson (Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2009), 24-25, fig. 3.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), pp. xii, fig. 4, 160.

Lapatin, Kenneth. "La Villa Getty, la reconstitution d'une icône." Monumental (2010), pp. 72-75, figs. 1, 5, (Image used is the statue in gallery).

Wohlmayr, Wolfgang. Die Romische Kunst: Ein Handbuch (Mainz: Zabern, 2011), pp. 149-50, fig. 75 (cast).

Di Mauro, Alberto. Italy Art LA, educational brochure (Los Angeles: Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, 2012), p. 22.

Platz-Horster, Gertrud. "Herakles in Brabant: Die Amethyst-Gemme aus Sint-Oedenrode." BABesch 88 (2013), pp. 191, 196-98, fig. 10, ill.

Stewart, Andrew. "Desperately Seeking Skopas." In Ho Skopas kai ho kosmos tou: Skopas of Paros and His World. Dora Katsōnopoulou and Andrew Stewart, eds. (Athens: International Conference on the Archaeology of Paros and the Cyclades, 2013), p. 24-26, figs. 3-4, 6, ill.

Mattusch, Carol C. Enduring Bronze: Ancient Art, Modern Views (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014), pp. 154-55, fig. 99.

Kansteiner, Sascha, et al., eds. Der neue Overbeck (DNO): die antiken Schriftquellen zu den bildenden Künsten der Griechen. Band III: Spätklassik: Bildhauer des 4. Jhs. v. Chr., DNO 1799-2677. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), p. 441, no. 16, 2309.

Thompson, Erin L. Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016), pp. 118-19, fig. 14 [exts. .1-.2 published.].

Scott, David A. Art: authenticity, restoration, forgery. (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2016), pp. 198-200, 205, figs. 5.12-13.

Angelicoussis, Elizabeth. Reconstructing the Lansdowne Collection of Classical Marbles. 2 vols. (Munich: Hirmer Verlag GmbH, 2017), vol. 1, pp. 58, 66 (illus.), 69 (illus.), 85 (illus.), 93, 109 (illus.), 110-111, 112 (illus.) vol. 2, pp. 118-125, no. 14, figs. 14.1-14.6.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource

Background information about Greek and Roman Mythology to accompany the curriculum “Gods, Heroes and Monsters.”

Lesson in which students learn about mythological creatures in the Hercules (Herakles) myth. They learn vocabulary and draw a mythological creature.


The Political Significance of the Hercules

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino. "The Youthful Hercules." Oxford, United Kingdom: Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, 1483-1520.

Michelangelo Buonarroti&rsquos artististic talents are immortalized in great works of art such as the David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which can be viewed in person by a modern audience. However, this is not the case for the small portion of the artist&rsquos works that have been lost over the 500 years since his lifetime. In 1492, Michelangelo sculpted a gigantic statue of the mythological hero Hercules. The statue has not been seen since 1713 but historians are able to understand the significance of this piece from records of its movement throughout history. It passed through the possession of a multitude of notable historical figures such as Piero de&rsquo Medici, Filippo Strozzi, and King Francis I of France. While the statue of Hercules was lost by the early eighteenth century, its intended political meaning for both the Medici and Michelangelo himself was lost by its removal from Florence.

In 1492, Lorenzo de&rsquo Medici the Magnificent passed away, which not only vacated the patriarch position of the family, but also the role of Michelangelo&rsquos patron and mentor. In their biographies of Michelangelo, both Ascanio Condivi and Giorgio Vasari state that Michelangelo was so struck with grief by the passing of Lorenzo that he carved an eight foot statue of Hercules in memoriam.1 As Michael Hirst and many other scholars suspect, the block of marble required for such a statue was most likely too expensive for Michelangelo to purchase himself which leads to the question of a commission.2

Michelangelo, Buonarroti, and Robert Walter Carden. Michelangelo a Record of His Life as Told in His Own Letters and Papers. London: Constable & company ltd., 1913.

After the death of Lorenzo, Piero de&rsquo Medici was expected to take his father&rsquos place as the head of the most powerful family in Florence. Condivi and Vasari both deny that Michelangelo worked seriously for Piero de&rsquo Medici and offer instead an anecdote that Piero requested Michelangelo to make a sculpture out of snow after a winter storm.3 This story works to eliminate Michelangelo&rsquos possible connection to Piero, who would be responsible for the exile of the Medici from Florence in 1494, which earned him the title &ldquothe foolish.&rdquo

However, a letter from Michelangelo to his father, Lodovico Buonarroti, in August of 1497 establishes his and Piero&rsquos relationship as one of patron and artist as the Michelangelo states, &ldquoI was instructed by Piero de&rsquo Medici to make a statue and I have bought the piece of marble for it.&rdquo4 Michelangelo&rsquos relationship with Piero is not the only evidence to support that the commission of the Hercules was for the Medici. Maria Ruvoldt cites in Michelangelo&rsquos Slaves and the Gift of Liberty, &ldquoWhen he fled Florence, Piero left behind a wealth of objects that were distributed by a committee of six Sindaci appointed by the republic to settle Medici debts. Among them was a marble Hercules restored on 11 August 1495 to a certain &lsquo&lsquoBonaroti,&rsquo&rsquo who is surely Michelangelo.&rdquo5

By acknowledging the Hercules as a Medici commission rather than an independent work, the political and social significance of the subject of the mythological hero changes. While art historians cannot know whether the subject of Hercules was chosen by Michelangelo or Piero, such a mythological subject carries a strong political message to the benefit of Piero. Leopold D. Ettlinger, in Hercules Florentinus , states &ldquoThe city government, he argued, picked on this specific symbol in order to tell all the world that Florence, like Hercules, was conscious of her power and would not allow any obstacles to stand in the way of her final goal: a pax florentina.&rdquo6 By commissioning a gigantic statue of Hercules, Piero aligned the Medici family with the strength of Florence and its history. Although ultimately unsuccessful, Piero tried to establish himself as a strong political figure similar to his &ldquomagnificent&rdquo father.

One of the many Hercules works of art owned by Lorenzo de' Medici.

Antonio Pollaiuolo, Hercules and Anteus, bronze. Florence, Museo Nazionale.

The claim made by Vasari and Condivi that the Hercules was a tribute to Lorenzo de&rsquo Medici is not an empty one. The Medici Palace had displayed Hercules &ldquotime and again in paint and bronze, for Lorenzo il Magnifico was surrounded by representations of Hercules and his exploits.&rdquo7 Lorenzo&rsquos own fixation on the mythological hero could have been a reflection of how he saw himself as well as an attempt to connect himself with Florentine iconography. Michelangelo and Piero would have been very familiar with Lorenzo&rsquos many commissions of Hercules-centered works. Michelangelo might have seen this as an opportunity not only for a commission but also as a way to honor a man who greatly inspired his life. Similarly, Piero de&rsquo Medici may have seen this as a way to further connect himself with his father&rsquos legacy in Florence. The Hercules as a Medici commission holds a strong meaning for both Michelangelo and Piero de&rsquo Medici as they tried to reestablish themselves after the death of the patron and father, Lorenzo de&rsquo Medici.

Unfortunately for Piero de&rsquo Medici, the Hercules statue could not save him from the anger of the Florentine people when the Medici were exiled in 1494. As previously stated by Ruvoldt, in 1495 the Hercules statue was presumably returned to Michelangelo as the Medici possessions were distributed.8 With the statue back in his hands, Michelangelo still held the power to determine the political significance of the piece.

The Strozzi Palace which held the Hercules until 1529.

With the Medici out of the Florence, it is not surprising that Michelangelo turned to another powerful Florentine family, the Strozzi&rsquos. Vasari briefly mentions that the Hercules &ldquostood for many years in the Strozzi Palace and was considered a marvelous work.&rdquo9 William E. Wallace concludes that the gift of the Hercules to the Strozzi was &ldquoa shift in alliance&rdquo and &ldquothe seeking of a new patron.&rdquo10 In this way, the Hercules continued to be of political significance at a turning point in Michelangelo&rsquos life. For the Strozzi, the Hercules still symbolized Florentine strength but instead it connected their family to the political scene rather than the Medici.

When Michelangelo handed over the Hercules to the Strozzi family, he lost any claim he had to the ownership of the piece. Filippo Strozzi, not unlike Michelangelo and Piero de&rsquo Medici, used the Hercules as a means of gaining political favor. Caroline Elam describes the tense political atmosphere in Florence during the late 1520&rsquos and the impending invasion of the Spanish imperial army.11 Filippo Strozzi used his connection to Battista della Palla to deepen the Florentine connection with France for support.12

In 1529, Filippo's son Piero wrote to him that he had handed over the Hercules statue to della Palla as a gift to the King of France, Francis I.13 Once again, the Hercules was used a tool of political gain however, this time without the input of Michelangelo. In a letter to Filippo from his brother, Lorenzo, he states, &ldquomany people - and especially Michelangelo - are unhappy that we are depriving ourselves of it&rdquo in reference to the departure of the Hercules from Florence.14 Ruvoldt attributes Michelangelo&rsquos displeasure to &ldquowounded pride&rdquo because Filippo removed the statue after over twenty years of ownership.15 While the movement of the Hercules from Florence to France was a political statement, it was not the political statement that Michelangelo intended to make in the context of Florentine society.

As a lost work of art, the Hercules is only accessible through its known history and reconstructions from other artists. When the Hercules reached France, it was installed in the Palace of Fontainebleau until the destruction of the Jardin de l'Etang in 1713, when it disappeared from written history.16 As it stood in the French garden, the statue did not hold the same significance to its French audience as it would have to the Florentines. While art historians cannot confront the piece in person, the historical evidence of Hercules iconography in Florence, letters written by those involved, and the accounts of Michelangelo&rsquos life help put together a history of this work as it moved through time and space. Michelangelo could not have predicted the exile of the Medici, the fall of Florence, and the other numerous events that led to the statue passing from Florence to France. Taking all this into account and the lack of a physical piece of art, the Hercules can only be immortalized through its use as a political chess piece in the fluctuating political environment of sixteenth century Florence.

Ascanio Condivi, and Hellmut Wohl, The Life of Michel-Angelo (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 15. Giorgio Vasari, Julia Conaway Bondanella, and Peter E. Bondanella, The Lives of the Artists (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 421-422.

Michael Hirst, Michelangelo, Carrara, and the Marble for the Cardinal's Pietà (London: The Burlington Magazine,1985), 155.

Condivi, and Wohl. The Life, 15. Vasari, Bondanella, and Bondanella, The Lives of the Artists , 421-422.

Michelangelo, Buonarroti, and Robert Walter Carden, Michelangelo a Record of His Life as Told in His Own Letters and Papers (London: Constable & company ltd., 1913), 8-9.

Maria Ruvoldt, Michelangelo's Slaves and the Gift of Liberty (Chicago: Renaissance Quarterly, 2012), 1037.

Leopold D. Ettlinger, Hercules Florentinus (Florence: Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz,1972), 122.

Ettlinger, Hercules Florentinus , 128.

Ruvoldt, Michelangelo's Slaves , 1037.

Vasari, Bondanella, and Bondanella, The Lives of the Artists , 421-422.

William E. Wallace, How Did Michelangelo Become a Sculpture? (Online: Academia.edu, 1992), 156

Caroline Elam, Art in the Service of Liberty: Battista Della Palla, Art Agent for Francis I (Chicago: I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance 5, 1993), 43-45.


12 Historically Significant Things Destroyed Due to Human Stupidity

Our planet is packed full of amazing attractions. Some of the major attractions are historic structures and artifacts that give us a glimpse into lost civilizations. But, the activities of many people among the seven billion who inhabit this planet pose a risk to the most spectacular and ancient landmarks. This has been proved in recent times as well. In the last few decades, numerous historical structures and artifacts have been destroyed because of tourism, vandalism, and war, and some of them are destroyed beyond repair. Keep reading to find out 12 historically significant things destroyed due to human stupidity.

1. In 2015, two tourists destroyed the 300-year-old Statue of the Two Hercules used as the symbol of the Italian city of Cremona when they climbed over it to take a perfect selfie.

Image credits: Zigres/Shutterstock.com

Two tourists made headlines in Italy, but for a bad reason.

A 300-year-old Statue of the Two Hercules has long been a symbol of the city of Cremona in northern Italy. It is said that the legendary mythological demi-God discovered the city.

But, in 2015, two tourists, obsessed with selfies, smashed the iconic statue while trying to climb over it to get a selfie. It is the portion of the crown that was destroyed by the tourist’s lack of etiquette.

The priceless statue was built in 1700 and was originally built to put over Cremona’s city gates.

It looks like people will do anything for a perfect snap. (source)

2. In 2013, a 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid was destroyed to make way for a road fill project by a construction company in Noh Mul, Belize.

The small Caribbean nation of Belize is well known for its lovely beaches, outstanding barrier reef, rain forest, and extensive relics left by the Mayans.

But, In 2013, the country lost one of its historic monuments, because of a construction company. A 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid at Noh Mul was destroyed by bulldozers to make fill for roads.

According to reports, the 65-foot-tall pyramid was constructed around 250 BCE with hand-cut limestone bricks, which was a quality material used by the companies to improve the quality of local roads, and it’s prized by contractors.

“This is one of the worst that I have seen in my entire 25 years of archaeology in Belize,” was how it was described by the archaeologist, John Morris, from the Institute of Archaeology, in Belize. (source)

3. Two teenagers in 2016 damaged a 5,000-year-old rock carving of skiing by scratching along the image lines using a sharp object to make it more visible and distinct in the Norwegian Island of Tro.

The ancient skier carving, before it was damaged. (Nordland County) Image credits: Smithsonianmag.com

The Norwegian island of Tro has a 5,000-year-old rock carving depicting a man skiing. The carving was one of the world’s earliest indications of skiing, and it also inspired the symbol of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

Sadly, in 2016, two teenagers with good intentions ruined the ancient carving, in an attempt to make it more visible and clearer. They used a sharp object to scratch along the image’s linings to make it more distinct.

Reports suggest that original carvings were destroyed and are beyond repair. “It’s a tragedy because it’s one of the most famous Norwegian historical sites,” the mayor of the nearby Alstahaug Municipality told the reporters.

The boys realized their mistake and made a public statement apologizing for their ignorant behavior.

Officials didn’t disclose their names to prevent any potential abuse towards the teenagers. (source)

4. In 1759, Reverend Francis Gastrell demolished William Shakespeare’s house after buying it six years before in 1753 because he was not happy with the tourist surge in the place, and also the people of the town were not happy with his attitude.

Stratford-upon-Avon- Shakespeare’s New Place. Image credits: Tripadvisor

When Reverend Francis Gastrell bought Shakespeare’s house, Stratford-upon-Avon, in 1753, he quickly became frustrated with the rising number of tourists at the place. In addition to that, he had issues with the local officials over taxes.

People in the town were already mad at him for cutting down a mulberry tree planted by Shakespeare in the garden. Then, he did something which was probably unthinkable for many Shakespeare lovers. Six years after buying the house, he destroyed the former home of one of the most famous poets in history.

The people of Stratford-upon-Avon were devastated when they heard about this. Gastrell’s popularity plummeted drastically, and eventually, he had to get out of the town. (source)

5. In 1941, When Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, sent three million German soldiers to invade the Soviet Union under Operation Barbarossa, they looted and destroyed precious artworks from the famous Amber Room in Russia.

Image credits: Giggel/web.archive.org

The Amber Room, which was decorated with six tones of Amber and semi-precious stones by Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram, was sent to Russia in 18 large containers in the 1700s.
The room built with international collaboration was set up in the Winter House in St. Petersburg as a part of a European art collection.

The magnificent room of art was used as a private meditation room, a gathering room, and sometimes as a trophy cabinet. According to historians, the total estimated value of the precious room would be $142 million in today’s world.

In1941, Adolf Hitler started Operation Barbarossa, which led to the invasion of the Soviet Union by three million German soldiers. Thousands of art collections were looted during that period from the illustrious Amber Room, as Nazis believed they belonged to Germans since they were made by Germans. (source)

6. In 2015, Islamic State militants destroyed the ancient Hatra site in Iraq, built 2,000 years ago.

Hatra. Image credits: Véronique Dauge/Wikimedia

The Islamic State, known for its violent, extremist ideas, has killed thousands of people and forced many others to flee their homes. In addition to ruining people’s lives, they destroyed many historic artifacts, and monuments as well.

In 2015, militants associated with the Islamic State demolished the historical archaeological site of Hatra in Iraq, which was built 2,000 years ago.

The iconic historical site, which is 110 km southwest of Mosul, was a secured city that stood strong against the invasions of Romans because of its thick walls. Not only that, Hatra city contained several temples and sculptures dedicated to gods like Apollo and Poseidon.

Officials suggested that militants had used explosives and bulldozers to smash down the buildings.

According to IS, which captured a large proportion of Iraq and Syria, shrines and statues are “false idols” that have to go down to pieces. “The destruction of Hatra marks a turning point in the appalling strategy of cultural cleansing underway in Iraq,” head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova mentioned in a statement. (source)


Reconstructing the Lost Hercules

In 1493, Michelangelo carved an eight foot tall marble statue of the mythological hero Hercules. Unfortunately, this sculpture was lost after sometime in France at the Palace of Fontainebleau. Due to its lost nature, this exhibit centers around the movement of the piece from Florence to France and the numerous hands it passed through on this journey. The mapping portion of the exhibit showcases the most probable trajectory of the piece from its conception to its last known location. By showing the movement of Hercules with a map and timeline, one is able to get a different perspective of how a work of art can be so removed from its origin and what that means for the interpretation of this work in history. The written portion of the exhibit explores the political significance of the Hercules as it changes hands through history. The exhibit aims to answer the question regarding Michelangelo's intentent for his Hercules statue and how the interputaion of his work changed as its location changed.


The J. Paul Getty Museum

This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Statue of Hercules (Lansdowne Herakles)

Unknown 193.5 cm (76 3/16 in.) 70.AA.109.1

Open Content images tend to be large in file-size. To avoid potential data charges from your carrier, we recommend making sure your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network before downloading.

Not currently on view

Object Details

Title:

Statue of Hercules (Lansdowne Herakles)

Artist/Maker:
Culture:
Place:

Hadrian's Villa, northern area, near the Casino Fede, Tivoli, Italy (Place Found)

Medium:
Object Number:
Dimensions:
Credit Line:
Department:
Classification:
Object Type:
Related Works
Related Works
Provenance
Provenance

Found: Hadrian's Villa, northern area, near the Casino Fede, Tivoli, Italy (first recorded in Dallaway 1800)

Thomas Jenkins (Rome, Italy), sold to William Petty Fitzmaurice, 1792.

1792 - 1805

William Petty-Fitzmaurice, 2nd earl of Shelburne, 1st marquess of Lansdowne, 1737 - 1805 (Lansdowne House, London, England), acquired from his estate by his son, John Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1805.

1805 - 1809

John Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1765 - 1809 (Lansdowne House, London, England), by inheritance to his wife, Mary Arabella Petty, 1809.

1809 - 1810

Mary Arabella Petty, marchioness of Lansdowne, died 1833 (Lansdowne House, London, England), sold to her brother-in-law, Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 1810.

1810 - 1863

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd marquess of Lansdowne, 1780 - 1863 (Lansdowne House, London, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1863.

1863 - 1866
1866 - 1927
1927 - 1936

Henry William Edmund Petty-Fitzmaurice, 6th marquess of Lansdowne, British, 1872 - 1936 (Bowood House, Wiltshire, England) [offered for sale, The celebrated collection of ancient marbles: property of the most honourable the Marquess of Lansdowne, Christie's, March 5, 1930, lot 34, bought back into the Lansdowne Collection and transferred to Bowood House, Wiltshire, England.], by inheritance to his heirs, 1936.

1936 - 1944
1944 - 1951
1951 - 1970

J. Paul Getty, American, 1892 - 1976, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1970.

Bibliography
Bibliography

Dallaway, James. Anecdotes of the Arts in England (London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1800), p. 341, no. 7.

Knight, Richard Payne. Specimens of antient sculpture: Aegyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman: selected from different collections in Great Britain by the Society of Dilettanti, vol. 1. (London: T. Payne, 1809), pl. XL.

Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Earl of Elgin's collection of sculptured marbles. (London, Printed for J. Murray, by W. Bulmer and Co., 1816), pp. 91-2, 95, 99, 104.

Dallaway, J. "Charles Townley, Esq." In Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth Century: consisting of authentic memoirs and original letters of eminent persons. vol. 3. Nichols, John, ed. (London: n.p., 1818), p. 252.

Müller, Karl Otfried. "Nachrichten über einige Antiken-Sammlungen in England: (Aus den Tagebüchern des Prof. Ottf. Müller in Göttingen)." Amalthea oder Museum der Kunstmythologie und bildlichen Alterthumskunde 3 (Leipzig, G. J. Göschen, 1825), pp. 241-2.

"Lansdowne House." A Monthly Magazine [Godey's Lady's Book] 9 (July, 1834), p. 24.

Green, Thomas. "Diary of a lover of literature [Thomas Green's Diary, 28 Jun. 1804]". Gentleman's Magazine, second ser., 1, vol. 155 (January - June, 1834), p. 252.

Clarac, Cte. Frédéric de. Musée de sculpture antique et moderne, ou description historique et graphique du Louvre et de toutes ses parties (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1841-53), V (1839-41) pl. 788, no. 1973 (1851) p. 14.

Jameson, Mrs. Anna. Companion to the Most Celebrated Private Galleries of Art in London (London: Saunders and Otley, 1844), pp. 334-5.

"Visits to private galleries." Art Union (October 1, 1847), p. 359.

Cunningham, Peter. A Handbook for London: Past and Present, vol. 2 (London: John Murray, 1849), p. 470.

Timbs. John. Curiosities of London: exhibiting the most rare and remarkable objects of interest in the metropolis. (London: D. Bogue, 1855), p. 490.

Michaelis, Adolf. "Die Privatsammlungen antiker Bildwerke in England." Archaeologische Zeitung 32 (1875), p. 37, no. 35.

Michaelis, Adolf Theodor Friedrich. Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (Cambridge: University Press, 1882), p. 451, no. 61.

Smith, A. H., ed. A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Lansdowne House, Based Upon the Work of Adolf Michaelis. With an Appendix Containing Original Documents Relating to the Collection. (London: n.p., 1889), pp. 9, 26-8, no. 61.

"Käufliche Gipsabgüsse." Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts V (1890), p. 161, no. 61 [as cast by Brucciani].

Wheatley, Henry Benjamin. London, past and present its history, associations, and traditions, vol. 2. (London: J. Murray, 1891), p. 366.

Clinch, George. Mayfair and Belgravia: Being an Historical Account of the Parish of St. George, Hanover Square. (London: Truslove & Shirley, 1892), p. 79.

Furtwängler, Adolf. Meisterwerke der griechischen Plastik: Kunstgeschichtliche Untersuchungen. (Leipzig: Giesecke & Devrient, 1893), pp. 515-20, fig. 92.

Kalkmann, August. Die Proportionen des Gesichts in der griechischen Kunst. ( Berlin: G. Reimer, 1893), pp. 60, 90 no. 34, 97 no. 83, 103 no. 34, 108 no. 83.

Winnefeld, Hermann. Die villa des Hadrian bei Tivoli. Jahrbuch des Kaiserlich Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts: Ergänzungsheft, vol. 3. (Berlin, G. Reimer, 1895), p. 162.

Reinach, Salomon. Repertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine. 6 vols. (Paris: E. Leroux, 1897-1930), vol. 1 (1897), p. 464, pl. 788, no. 1973.

Gusman, Pierre. La villa impériale de Tibur (villa Hadriana). (Paris: A. Fontemoing, 1904), pp. 282-4, fig. 488.

Chancellor, Edwin Beresford. The private palaces of London: past and present. (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1908), p. 281.

Baedeker, Karl. London and its environs: handbook for travellers. (Leipzig: K. Baedeker, 1911), p. 269, no. 61.

D. Brucciani & Co. Catalogue of Casts for Schools. (London: D. Brucciani & Co., 1914), p. 5 no. 2883, cover ill. [cast].

Baedeker, Karl. London and its environs: handbook for travellers. (Leipzig: K. Baedeker, 1923), "Lansdowne", no. 61.

Picard, Charles. La sculpture antique de Phidias à l'ère byzantine. (Paris: H. Laurens, 1926), p. 84.

Podany, Jerry. "Faked, flayed or fractured? Development of loss compensation approaches for antiquities." In Loss compensation : technical and philosophical issues : proceedings of the Objects Specialty Group Session, June 10, 1994, 22nd annual meeting, Nashville, TN. Objects Specialty Group Postprints, vol. 2. Ellen Pearlstein and Michele Marincola, compilers. (Washington, D.C. : American Institute for Conservation and Artistic Works, 1994), pp. 47, 56, figs. 18-19.

Calcani, Giuliana. Skopas di Paros (Rome: G. Bretschneider, 2009), pp. 19-20, 48, 65.

Platz-Horster, Gertrud. "Herakles in Brabant: Die Amethyst-Gemme aus Sint-Oedenrode." BABesch 88 (2013), pp. 191, 196-198, fig. 10, ill.

Stewart, Andrew. "Desperately Seeking Skopas." In Ho Skopas kai ho kosmos tou: Skopas of Paros and His World. Dora Katsōnopoulou and Andrew Stewart, eds. (Athens: International Conference on the Archaeology of Paros and the Cyclades, 2013), p. 24-26, figs. 3-4, 6, ill.

Kansteiner, Sascha, et al., eds. Der neue Overbeck (DNO): die antiken Schriftquellen zu den bildenden Künsten der Griechen. Band III: Spätklassik: Bildhauer des 4. Jhs. v. Chr., DNO 1799-2677. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), p. 441, no. 16, 2309.

Scott, David A. Art: authenticity, restoration, forgery. (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, 2016), pp. 198-200, 205, figs. 5.12-13.

Thompson, Erin L. Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016), pp. 118-119, fig. 14.

Angelicoussis, Elizabeth. Reconstructing the Lansdowne Collection of Classical Marbles. 2 vols. (Munich: Hirmer Verlag GmbH, 2017), vol. 1, pp. 58, 66 (illus.), 69 (illus.), 85 (illus.), 93, 109 (illus.), 110-111, 112 (illus.) vol. 2, pp. 118-125, no. 14, figs. 14.1-14.6.

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Hercules and Diomedes

Robert Langdon and Sienna wander in the Palazzo Vecchio in search of new clues, and a very special statue catches their attention.

We are talking about the statue of Hercules and Diomedes in the Hall of the Five Hundred.

This statue—located next to the Genius of Victory by Michelangelo and Florence triumphant over Pisa by Giambologna—belongs to a series of statues representing The Labors of Hercules.

Cosimo I de’ Medici commissioned twelve statues to sculptor Vincenzo de’ Rossi in 1560, but he managed to complete only seven of them.

In the original project, this series of sculptures was supposed to decorate a fountain in the Boboli Gardens.

Since 1592, these statues have been located in the Salone dei Cinquecento, with the exception of a brief period when Florence was capital, when they were moved to the Bargello Palace.

These sculptures represent the following scenes: Hercules and Cacus, Hercules and the Centaur Nessus, Hercules and Antaeus, Hercules and Diomedes, Hercules and the Boar Erymanthian, and Hercules and Hippolyta.

The seventh group, Hercules with the sphere of Atlas, is now at the entrance to the Villa di Poggio Imperiale.

Hercules is the mythological hero that best embodies Greek freedom and heroism: for this reason, the Republic of Florence and the Medici loved the stories of Hercules very much and often celebrated them with art.

Hercules embodied liberty as David—the hero who defeated Goliath— and who, not surprisingly, was chosen to stand at the entrance of the Palazzo Vecchio.

In Greek mythology, Hercules embodies courage and perseverance. At the end of his twelve labors he conquers immortality, which is the quality of all right and fair creatures.

If you want to know all about Hercules, we have a free e-book to suggest: Myths of Greece and Rome, by Hélène Adeline Guerber.

In his youth, Hercules did not know what to do with his fate. Then two women—Softness and Virtue—appeared to him and offered him a choice between a life of pleasure and joy and one of toil and glory.

Hercules chose the latter and had to face the twelve labors: Hercules and Diomedes is one of these episodes.

During the course of his twelve labors, Hercules, the strongest of the gods, also found time to remedy injustice and abuse.

In the Hercules and Diomedes episode, Eurystheus—to which Hercules was subjected according to the will of Zeus—commanded Hercules to seize the mares of Diomedes and bring them to Mycenae, the city where Eurystheus was king.

Diomedes, son of the cruel god Ares, was a despot and reigned over the Bistoni in Thrace.

He had some wild mares, spitting fire and flames from their nostrils.

As he was cruel, Diomedes used to feed them with the poor who were shipwrecked by storms off the coast of Thrace.

Hercules, with little effort, reached Thrace, captured and tied Diomedes, and fed him to his own mares.

When the horses had eaten their own master, Hercules brought them to Mycenae as promised, and Eurystheus set them free.

The statue in the Hall of the Five Hundred succeeds very well in representing a right punishment for tyrants.

Why? You can find out the description given by Vayentha, the shadow character of Dan Brown’s Inferno:

The sculpture depicted the two heroes of Greek mythology—both stark naked—locked in a wrestling match. Hercules was holding Diomedes upside down, preparing to throw him, while Diomedes was tightly gripping Hercules’ penis, as if to say, “Are you sure you want to throw me?”

Florence Inferno is a blog about the Florentine mysteries, symbols, and places that are mentioned in Dan Brown’s latest novel Inferno, and much more about the city. We also offer a guided Inferno walking tour, which follows the footsteps of Robert and Sienna, as well as an an eBook with an audio version.

It is nice to be able to see the places, sculptures, paintings, etc that are depicted in the book. Thank you for this.


ISIS' Attack on Ancient History Called a 'War Crime'

Already notorious for videos of beheadings and executions, the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS, has recently taken aim at archaeological ruins and relics in attacks that international leaders say amount to a "war crime."

Last week, ISIS released a video of the group ransacking the Mosul Museum in northern Iraq. Yesterday (March 5), Iraq's Ministry of Culture announced that ISIS had razed one of the famous capitals of the Assyrian empire, the 3,300-year-old city of Nimrud, near the banks of the Tigris River.

"The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime," UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said in a statement today. [In Photos: See the Treasures of Mesopotamia]

"This is yet another attack against the Iraqi people, reminding us that nothing is safe from the cultural cleansing underway in the country: It targets human lives, minorities, and is marked by the systematic destruction of humanity's ancient heritage," Bokova said. She called on political and religious leaders to condemn the destruction, and added that she had alerted the U.N. Security Council and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

'Amazingly dangerous situation'

The bulldozing of Nimrud was especially shocking because it is one of the most important archaeological sites not just in Mesopotamia, but the world, said Ihsan Fethi, director of the Iraqi Architects Society.

"It was a crime against anything any civilized person would believe," Fethi added.

Nimrud covers nearly 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) and has sprawling palaces, temples and a citadel. The city was built by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser I in the 13th century B.C. A few centuries later, it became the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, considered by some scholars to be the first true empire in world history.

You hardly had to go to Nimrud to appreciate its architecture and artwork. Today, museums like the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York display Nimrud's statues of human-headed winged beasts, known as lamassu, as well as intricately carved reliefs showing lions, kings, gods and scenes of battle that once decorated palace walls.

Nimrud has a long history of excavations by Western archaeologists, going back to the mid-19th century. Sir Austen Henry Layard brought reliefs from the ancient city to the British Museum and other collections in the late 1840s and 1850s. One hundred years later, another British archaeologist, Max Mallowan, directed excavations at Nimrud. (His wife, the mystery novelist Agatha Christie, often joined the expeditions.)

Still, Fethi estimated that only 15 to 20 percent of the city had been excavated, and the site possibly hides more discoveries, which, at least in the near future, have little chance of being explored.

"This is an amazingly dangerous situation," Fethi said. "The longer [ISIS] stay, the more destruction we'll see."

Fethi worries that the next target could be the ancient city of Hatra — another UNESCO World Heritage Site that was founded in the third century B.C., some 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Mosul. (Those who don't know Hatra for its impressive temples and architecture might know the ancient city from its cameo in "The Exorcist.") [See Photos of Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites]

Documenting the damage

The events have been both heartbreaking and frustrating for archaeologists and cultural heritage specialists watching from afar.

"We can express outrage and highlight the enormous loss that's going on — and the significance of that loss — but beyond that, it's extremely difficult to do anything," said Paul Collins of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq.

For now, some experts are trying to at least take stock of what may have been lost.

Christopher Jones, a doctoral student who is studying the history of the ancient Near East at Columbia University, said he downloaded the video of ISIS pillaging the Mosul Museum last week and went through the footage bit by bit, taking screenshots and notes. On his blog, Gates of Nineveh, Jones published a two-part post describing the objects he could identify.

He had to turn to older images from inside the museum and obscure publications — older books and academic papers, mostly in Arabic — to piece together a picture of what was destroyed. Some of the objects that were smashed at the Mosul Museum were clearly replicas.

"You can tell from some of them by the way they break," Jones said. Plaster casts tend to shatter, while authentically ancient stone sculptures are much more durable when they're toppled over.

Some of the more dramatic scenes in the ISIS video seem to involve replicas or casts. In one part of the video, a plaster copy of a statue of Hercules is pushed to the floor, and it immediately smashes into thousands of little pieces, kicking up a cloud of white dust. In another scene, a sculpture of a face hanging on the wall of the museum's Hatra Hall falls to the floor in slow motion after a man in a purple polo shirt takes a sledgehammer to it. Jones spoke to Lucinda Dirven, an expert on Hatra, who thinks the face could be a plaster cast of one of the masks that was built into a wall at the ancient city.

That Hercules statue was listed as one of the four replicas in the Hatra Hall, according to a basic inventory of the Mosul Museum that was shared on the IraqCrisis cultural heritage mailing list. But there were 30 other objects from the same gallery listed as authentic, including four statues of kings from Hatra. All four of those statues seem to have been destroyed — a 15 percent loss of all existing statues of Hatrene kings, as just 27 were known, Jones said.

Besides the Hatra Hall, the Mosul Museum has two other galleries: one dedicated to Assyrian art with reliefs and statues from Nimrud and Nineveh (another ancient Assyrian capital) and an Islamic hall, which was not shown in the video.

That video also cut to footage taken beyond the walls of the museum, at Nineveh. It showed men using power tools to destroy the colossal lamassu that stood guard at the Nergal Gate Museum. The winged statues were among the few that hadn't already been shipped off to other museums.

"Those were some of the few lamassu that were still in situ," Jones said.

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Watch the video: Hercules: Heroic Quest (June 2022).


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