Is it an arm? Is it a leg? What the hell is that hole?

Since Vernon Silver (@VTSilver) dug that photo of the Gaza “Apollo” (tray-bearer) out of the corner of the web, he, David Meadows (@rogueclassicist), Justin Walsh (@jstpwalsh) and I (@conflictantiq) have been discussing it on Twitter, and Vladimir Stissi‘s given yet another astute post-length analysis in a comment on my last post.

Here, I want to try to compare a few photos to work out which part of which limb is in that photo, and whether the hole was made as part of the statue (whether it was an original feature) or whether it was done to part of the statue (whether it was a subsequent accident).

As the photos show, it isn’t the inner right forearm, the outer right forearm, the front upper right arm, or the front upper left arm; and based on its shape and space (away from the body), it isn’t the inner left forearm, the outer left forearm or the back upper left arm. But it could be the back upper right arm.

A comparison of the unidentified limb with the arms of the Gaza 'Apollo'.

A comparison of the unidentified limb with the arms of the Gaza ‘Apollo’.

On the left, I’ve flipped the images of the front of the statue’s legs, so that the marks along their edges can be compared more easily with the marks along the edges of the unidentified limb. The shapes don’t overlay and the corrosion/accretion/turquoise whatever doesn’t match. On the right, the unidentified limb can be compared directly with a photo of the backs of the statue’s legs. The mass of corrosion/accretion/turquoise whatever on the backs of the statue’s legs show that the unidentified limb can’t be one of them [as long as they haven’t been cleaned]. So I think it must be the back upper right arm.

[However, as Vladimir noted, ‘the uncorroded part on the lower backside of the head, or rather its regular border, looks odd, as if the corrosion has been cleaned away to reveal part of the hair’; and as I complained, I want ‘to get comparable photos of the face, to see whether it had been as heavily cleaned as it (sometimes) appears‘.

If the legs had been scoured, then the back of the right leg would very closely resemble the unidentified limb. Still, if that were the case, the patch-and-hole would be on the outer side of the back of the right leg, near the back of the knee, which doesn’t seem to be visible in the available photo of the backs of the legs.]

A comparison of the unidentified limb with the legs of the Gaza 'Apollo'.

A comparison of the unidentified limb with the legs of the Gaza ‘Apollo’.

In a sense, there are two holes in this image, one of them filled. The square patch appears to have been a repair to a crack or tear. Vladimir‘s explained how the patch appears to be original. However, the newer hole in the fill of the older hole may not be (as) ancient.

David’s rightly warned, ‘keep in mind… that the Getty item has been restored‘, and one curved edge of the hole in the unidentified limb does resemble half of a drill hole. But the rest of the edges are a wreck.

In the bottom left corner of this (rotated) image of the hole in the unidentified limb, there is a piece of bronze “pointing” up towards the top right curved edge. It appears to have been struck, (partly) broken off (the rest of) the edge of the hole, bending in along its middle, going into the hole. The edges of the hole have less corrosion/accretion than the areas around them, but they don’t look very freshly broken, so it may be an old injury, but it may have happened after the statue was deposited.

Whether that was just after its deposition, or in the course of its recovery, I don’t know.

A comparison of the hole in the Gaza 'Apollo' (right) with the holes in the Pompeii Apollo Saettante (left).

A comparison of the hole in the Gaza ‘Apollo’ (right) with the holes in the Pompeii Apollo Saettante (left).

Photo credits

The photos of the Gaza “Apollo” are from thn87‘s eBay advert, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in Gaza (PMTAG – in Bloomberg Businessweek’s annotated version), and Shahdi Alkashif’s BBC English and BBC Arabic articles; the photo of the Pompeii Apollo Saettante is from the Getty Iris.

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