Twenty years after it declared independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine is stepping out to tout its own heritage and cultural savvy. Visitors to the capital, Kiev, tell of new shops, restaurants, art museums, and even a stadium under renovation for the 2012 European soccer championships.
A glittering new show at the Museum of Russian Art in south Minneapolis appears to be part of this effort to walk proud on the international stage. “Antiquities From Ukraine: Golden Treasures and Lost Civilizations” features a handsome collection of 7,000-year-old pottery and remarkably intact gold jewelry and ornaments from Scythian burial mounds dating to 700 B.C., plus gorgeous Greek gold jewelry and Byzantine artifacts from later eras.
Some of the jewelry is astonishingly delicate, notably a garland from the 4th century B.C. in the shape of an oak branch sprouting tiny leaves and acorns, and a stunning golden buckle whose centerpiece is a little temple from which gallop two miniature horses pulling a manned chariot. Read more.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has agreed to surrender a 2,500-year-old Greek vase that has been a museum showpiece for nearly 30 years. The institute intends to return the object to Italy, which says it was looted from an ancient grave.
Italian government officials first claimed the ceramic vase in 2005 as part of a wide-ranging investigation into the source of antiquities at eight U.S. museums, including the Getty in Los Angeles, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.
“We’re very sorry to lose this object because it’s a very important example” of ancient art that museums essentially can’t acquire anymore, said Kaywin Feldman, the institute’s director and immediate past president of the American Association of Museum Directors.
The Minneapolis museum is not accused of wrongdoing. Italian officials did not pursue the Minneapolis vase until the museum sought to resolve the issue starting last year. Read more.
MINNEAPOLIS — Fossils described last year as representatives of an ancient species critical to human evolution have reentered the scientific spotlight and set off a new round of debate over the finds’ true identity.
Researchers described analyses of new and previously recovered remains of a South African species called Australopithecus sediba on April 16 at a meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Evidence is accumulating, they reported, that 2-million-year-old A. sediba formed an evolutionary connection between relatively apelike members of Australopithecus and the Homo genus, which includes living people.
It’s now clear that A. sediba shares more skeletal features with early Homo specimens than any other known Australopithecus species does, said Darryl de Ruiter of Texas A&M University in College Station. “We think A. sediba is a possible candidate ancestor for the genus Homo.” Read more.