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CESNOLA, General Louis Palma Di.


Its Ancient Cities, Tombs, And Temples. A Narrative of Researches and Excavations During Ten Years' Residence In That Island. With Maps And Illustrations.

London: John Murray, 1877 Stock Code: 132949
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Cesnola's controversial work on Cypriot antiques

First edition of this controversial work on Cypriot antiques by Luigi Palma di Cesnola (1832-1904) an Italian-American soldier, diplomat, and amateur archaeologist. He was United States consul at Larnaca in Cyprus from 1865 to 1877, a time during which he carried out extensive excavations and uncovered a large quantity of antiquities. The collection was purchased by the newly expanded Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1872, and Cesnola became the first director in 1879, until his death.

But while Cesnola received honorary degrees from Columbia and Princeton universities, a knightly order from the king of Italy, and membership in various learned societies for his work, the ethics of 19th-century archaeological research, or lack thereof, were sowing seeds of discord for future generations. Indeed, in 2006, The Cyprus Museum held an exhibition titled History Lost about the illicit trade of antiques around the world. According to the exhibition, "the destruction of the cultural heritage" started when Cesnola "pillaged a number of unexcavated sites and collected over 35,000 objects, generally without permission from Ottoman authorities" for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum. In his haste, "five thousand pieces were lost in a shipwreck while countless others were smashed to bits on the rough sea passage. His bandit acts did not ruin his reputation or career. Today the Cypriot collection at the Met the most comprehensive in the Western Hemisphere is called the Cesnola Collection" (Markides).

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Large octavo (224 x 144 mm). Near-contemporary green morocco, raised bands, gilt titles and motifs on spine, gilt Anthemion motif roll borders on boards and turn-ins, edges gilt, marbled endpapers.


60 numbered plates, 2 maps and numerous in-text illustrations.


Bewick-style landscape bookplate for J. Cresswell, and ink ownership inscription of Walter Scott ?D... dated November 1881. Minor scuffing to extremities mostly; a fine copy.


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