Morgantina treasure

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Pyxis with Eirene
Phiale with 12 rays
Pyxis with Scylla
Bowl for mixing wine

The Morgantina treasure is a set of 16 pieces of Greek silverware with details in gold dating from the third century BC, which was illegally excavated from Morgantina, an Ancient Greek city in Sicily, near modern Aidone. The hoard includes two large bowls, a cup with two handles, plates and several drinking utensils. It was probably excavated around 1978 (the date of a modern coin found buried at the most likely site), and was bought by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1981 and 1982. After protracted pressure, in 2010 the treasure was transferred from the Metropolitan to Rome, before returning to Sicily.[1][2]


The treasure was discovered in a building of Morgantina, perhaps hidden there at the sack of the city at the hands of the Romans in 211 BC. The creation of the objects is dated to around 240 BC, when the city was subject to Hieron II of Syracuse.

According to some scholars, the treasure belonged to the hierophant, the high priest of Demeter and Persephone.[3][4][5]

In 2006 the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, the regional commissioner for cultural heritage and activities of Sicily and Philippe De Montebello, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, agreed that the treasure would be returned to Italy. In 2010, after its return, the treasure was temporarily displayed in the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome and then delivered to Sicily.


The treasure is made up of the following pieces:

  • Two deep cups with a concave profile (diameter: 22 cm, weight: 407–418 g);
  • Pyxis (diameter 10.5 cm, weight 81 g) with a depiction of Eirene holding a cornucopia and a little Eros or Plutus;
  • Hemispheric cup (diameter 13–14 cm, weight 151 g);
  • Ovoid skyphos (diameter 13.3 cm, weight 300 g);
  • Kyathos (diameter 5.5 cm, weight 119 g, height 24.7 cm);
  • Two truncated conical receptacles for mixing wine, with three supports shaped like theatrical masks of Demeter, Persephone and Dionysus (diameter: 26 cm, weight: 891 g, height: 20 cm);
  • Deep cup with a conical profile (diameter: 21 cm, weight 479 g, height: 6.8 cm);
  • Olpe with an ovoid body (diameter: 8 cm, weight: 178 g, height: 9.1 cm);
  • Mesomphalos phiale with 12 rays (diameter: 14.8 cm, weight: 104 g, height: 2.3 cm);
  • Pyxis (diameter: 8.3 cm, weight: 148 g, height 5.5 cm) with a depiction of Scylla or perhaps Sicilia, throwing a mass of volcanic rock;
  • Small cylindrical altar (bomiskos) on a square base (base: 10.6x10.6 cm, weight: 368 g, height: 11 cm) decorated with a bucranium and the words "sacred to the God" in Ancient Greek.
  • Pair of horns (length: 15.5 cm, weight 74 g) used in religious rites.


  1. ^ "Rome to display ancient Greek silverware". Associated Press. March 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-20. [dead link]
  2. ^ Povoledo, Elisabetta (December 5, 2010). "A Trove of Ancient Silver Said to Be Stolen Returns to Its Home in Sicily". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-06. This year this cache of 16 Hellenistic silver-gilt objects known as the Morgantina silver was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. For decades archaeologists, magistrates and eventually the Italian government had attempted to convince the museum that the pieces had been illegally excavated 30 years ago from Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement whose ruins lie next to Aidone. 
  3. ^ La Sicilia -Tony Zermo Umberto Digrazia (in Italian). 5 February 2006.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Paolo Conti (4 February 2006). "New York ridà all' Italia i tesori "rubati"" [New York returns the "stolen" treasure to Italy]. Corriere della Sera (in Italian). p. 20. 
  5. ^ L. Mat. (22 February 2006). "Una strada per recuperare l'arte rubata" [A road to the recovery of stolen art]. La Stampa (in Italian). p. 36. 

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