The Getty museum has recently announced that it has decided to voluntarily return a terracotta head to the Museo Archeologico in Aidone, Sicily. Researchers at the Getty believe that the head, which they suspect is a depiction of the Greek god Hades, was “clandestinely excavated” from Sicily over forty years ago.
According to Getty records, the museum originally purchased the head in 1985 for $530,000. The Getty purchased it from collector Maurice Tempelsman, who previously purchased it from a dealer in London. Researchers for the Getty discovered that the head was likely looted from near Morgantina, Sicily, by comparing the head to several terracotta fragments that were originally found near the site.
According to Greek mythology, Hades is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon. The three brothers rule the underworld, air, and sea, respectively. Hades is also closely associated with Greek goddess Persephone, a statue of whom was also looted from the Sicily site.
Currently, patrons are still able to view the head at the Getty Villa, where it is displayed as part of “The Sanctuaries of Demeter and Persephone at Morgantina.” The display will last until January 21, 2013, after which it will be featured in a traveling expedition, “Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome.” After the traveling expedition, it will be returned to Sicily.