Column from Temple of Artemis

Marble column from the Temple of Artemis at Sardis
Greek, Hellenistic, ca. 300 B.C.E.
Gift of The American Society for the Excavation of Sardis, [Turkey] 1926 (26.59.1)
Photo © Joan Lansberry, May 2008

From info card:
"The section of a fluted Ionic column in the center of this room stood over fifty-eight feet high in its original location at the Temple of Artemis. The delicate foliate carving on the capital is unique among extant capitals from the temple, and the torus (foliated base), with its vegetal scale-like pattern, is also exceptionally elaborate. This capital is slightly smaller than others found at the site, indicating that it does not belong to the outer colonnade. Two similar pairs of columns (marked in red on the plan shown nearby) stood in the east and west porches. The column, displayed here with most of the shaft omitted, was probably originally from one or more of those pairs. Alternatively, it may be from the cella (inner room) or from the inner back porch. Parts of the fluted shaft are restored, and the profiled base below the torus is a copy of the original."

There's a stormy background regarding this piece's acquisition, as revealed by the New York Times:

"In 1922, as the Greeks and Turks warred over the port of Izmir, the column was spirited away by American archaeologists along with hundreds of other pieces and sent to the Met. When the hostilities ended, the Turks protested and the theft (or rescue, depending on one's perspective) became an international incident, recorded in State Department archives. After much negotiation, the Turks ceded ownership of the column in exchange for the return of 53 cases of antiquities, also stolen from Sardis."

That's a matter of perspective to say it was 'stolen'. Would it have been better to let the hazards of war damage these pieces? If they "ceded ownership", isn't it securely ours? In any case, hopefully the museum will at least have a plaster copy of this marvelous column.