miércoles, 17 de julio de 2013

Ancient Graves, Pyramid Ruins Found in Mexico

Construction work in eastern Mexico exposed an ancient settlement, including 30 skeletons and the ruins of a pyramid, believed to be up to 2,000 years old, archaeology officials announced.
At the site of the graves in the town of Jaltipan, southeast of Veracruz, archaeologists also found clay figurines, jade beads, mirrors and animal remains, according to the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH.
Researchers believe the settlement was occupied from around the first century A.D. until A.D. 600 or 700. Little is known about the people who lived there. The skeletons are set to be analyzed so that researchers can learn about how theIn Photos: Ancient Egyptian Skeletons Unearthed]
y were treated for burial. [
"All that is known so far is that of the 30 burials, two at least belong to infants," explained archaeologist Alfredo Delgado in a statement from INAH.
Deer antlers and bones that may belong to dogs, coyotes, deer, fish and birds were buried with the bodies, perhaps as animal companions for the underworld, the researchers said. There's also evidence that the inhabitants of the site were fossil collectors; among the numerous prehistoric remains were the fossilized teeth of a long extinct Megalodon-type shark.
The artifacts found at the site represent more than one culture. Some figurines and brickwork look Mayan, while there was also pottery that looks like it came from ancient city of Teotihuacan, the researchers say.
"Analyses will enable us to see whether this site was multicultural, as is indicated by the materials found, or whether the inhabitants were all of the same genetic type," Delgado said.
The pyramid found on a hill near the burials is made of stone slabs and stretches 39 feet (12 meters) tall and looks Mayan or Tajin in style, the researchers believe. While pre-Columbian stone monuments have been found in Los Tuxtlas and the Sierra de Santa Marta, archaeologists say this type of ancient stone architecture has rarely been found in the southern part of the state of Veracruz.
The team says they also discovered bricks in Jaltipan resembling those found at Comacalco, a Mayan city 74 miles (120 kilometers) away in the Tabasco region.
Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

Experts row over 'earliest' Chinese inscriptions find at the Zhuangqiaofen archaeological site

BEIJING (AFP).- Fierce debate has erupted among experts in China over the discovery of 5,000-year-old inscriptions that some believe represent the earliest record of Chinese characters.

Pottery pieces and stone vessels unearthed at the Zhuangqiaofen archaeological site in the eastern province of Zhejiang push "the origin of the written language back 1,000 years", the state-run Global Times newspaper reported.

The inscriptions predate the oracles, writings on turtle shells dating back to the Shang Dynasty (C.1600-1046BC), which are commonly believed to be the origin of the written Chinese language system.

Some of the inscriptions were written together in what some experts believe resembles a short sentence.

Li Boqian, an archaeology professor from Peking University, said the symbols reveal the ancient Liangzhu civilisation -- which existed in Zhejiang and neighbouring Jiangsu in the Neolithic Age -- had already developed the basic structure of sentences from independent words, the Global Times said earlier this week.

Other specialists dismissed the significance of such a find. Xu Hong, an archaeology researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expressed scepticism on links between the inscriptions and the development of Chinese script.
"Even if those signs on the stones were characters, they were simply from a long dead east Asian country before the Middle Kingdom existed," he said on Sina Weibo, China's version of the social network Twitter.

"Many signs and character lookalikes earlier than the

Xia Jingchun, a professor of Chinese language from Beijing Technology and Business University, also wrote on Weibo: "It's long been believed by experts that there were more ancient characters than the oracles, because the oracles were too mature, and older languages are supposed to be less developed."

The inscriptions were found among artefacts unearthed between 2003 and 2006, state media said.
oracles have been found in east Asia."
Archaeologists find remains of sacrificed woman in Peruvian ruins

By Emily Culver

The skeleton was found in Cao Viejo, one of the ruins in El Brujo archaeological complex in La Libertad.
Archaeologists from the Wiese Foundation, directed by Régulo Franco Jordán, who discovered the Lady of Cao, witnessed an unprecedented event. About one month ago, the group found the remains of a sacrificed woman in the upper platform of the ruins known as Cao while they were excavating the ceremonial floor. The ruins form part of the archaeological complex known as El Brujo, located in La Libertad.

This discovery is particularly poignant and unexpected because archaeologists have believed until now that women were not sacrificed in the Moche culture, the group that inhabited and built the Cao ruins. This belief is sustained by the murals and artwork in the ruins that only depict male sacrificial victims.
 The discovery has caused a significant shift in archaeological conceptions surrounding the Moche culture, a pre-Incan group that inhabited the dry northern Peruvian coast.

Régulo Franco told El Comercio why this find was so significant: “Finding a woman has caused a lot of surprise and, even more, to know that she was buried face down with the head facing West in the direction of the sea with one arm extended and an otherwise normal posture, is way beyond anything we have known up to now.”

At her time of death, archaeologists approximate her age to have been between 17 and 19 years old, according to studies done by Dr. John Verano, professor of Tulane University. He also told La Repúlica he believed her cause of death to be ingestion of some sort of toxic substance because there were no signs of strangling or other injuries.

lunes, 8 de julio de 2013

Mysterious Toe Rings Found on Ancient Egyptian Skeletons

Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor 
Archaeologists have discovered two ancient Egyptian skeletons, dating back more than 3,300 years, which were each buried with a toe ring made of copper alloy, the first time such rings have been found in ancient Egypt.
The toe rings were likely worn while the individuals were still alive, and the discovery leaves open the question of whether they were worn for fashion or magical reasons.
Supporting the magical interpretation, one of the rings was found on the right toe of a male, age 35-40, whose foot had suffered a fracture along with a broken femur above it. [See Images of Skeletons & Toe Rings]
Unique rings in a unique ancient city
Both skeletons were found in a cemetery just south of the ancient city of Akhetaten, whose name means "Horizon of the Aten." Now called Amarna, the city of Akhetaten was a short-lived Egyptian capital built by Akhenaten a pharaoh who tried to focus Egypt's religion around the worship of the sun disc, the "Aten." He was also likely the father of Tutankhamun.
After Akhenaten's death, this attempt to change Egyptian religion unraveled, as his successors denounced him and the city became abandoned. Even so, Anna Stevens, the assistant director of the Amarna Project, said the newly discovered rings are unlikely to be related to the religious changes Akhenaten introduced.
The findings do appear to be the first copper alloy toe rings discovered in ancient Egypt. "I'm not aware of any, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Bear in mind that if we found something like this in a house, for example, we would have no idea of its purpose,"Stevens wrote in an email toLiveScience.
A gold toe ring was previously found on a mummy named Hornedjitef, a priest at Karnak more than 2,200 years ago. The mummy, which resides at the British Museum, has a "thick gold ring on the big toe of his left foot," writes anthropologist Joyce Filer in her book "The Mystery of the Egyptian Mummy" (British Museum Press, 2003). [Images: The Faces of Egyptian Mummies Revealed]
A magical healing device?
The man whose right foot had been injured was likely in great pain when alive.
He "showed signs of multiple antemortem [before his death] fractures, including of several ribs, the left radius, right ulna, right foot (on which the toe ring was found) and right femur," Stevens wrote. "The fracture of the right femur healed at an angle and must have caused this individual considerable ongoing pain."
The ring was placed on the toe of the injured foot, suggesting perhaps it was intended as a magical healing device of sorts.
"The act of 'binding' or 'encircling' was a powerful magical device in ancient Egypt, and a metal ring, which can be looped around something, lends itself well to this kind of action," Stevens said. "This is a possibility that we will look into further, checking through sources such as the corpus of magico-medical spells that have survived from ancient Egypt, to look for parallels."
However, the skeleton of the second individual with the toe ring, found in 2012, bore no visible signs of a medical condition. Stevens notes that this individual has yet to be studied in depth by bio-archaeologists and its sex is unknown.
Who were they?
The skeletons were wrapped in textile and plant-stem matting, and both burials had been disturbed by tomb robbers.
None of the skeletons in the cemetery were technically "mummified" so to speak. "There is no evidence from the cemetery as a whole of attempts to mummify the bodies, in terms of the removal of internal organs (we quite often find remains of brain within the skulls) or the introduction of additives to preserve tissue (the bodies survive largely as skeletons)," Stevens wrote. "But in a way the wrapping of the bodies within textile and matting is a step towards preserving the shape of the body, and a form of simple mummification." [In Photos: Mummy Evisceration Techniques]
Figuring out who these individuals were in life is tricky, Stevens said. This cemetery appears to represent a "wide slice" of the city's society. These people were not wealthy enough to get buried in a rock-cut tomb but could afford, and were allowed, the simple burials seen at this cemetery.
"They [the two individuals] probably lived, like most citizens of Amarna, in a small house adjacent to that of a larger villa belonging to one of the city's officials, for whom they provided services and labor in exchange for basic provisions, especially grain," Stevens said.
In the case of the male with multiple fractures, his life appears to have been especially difficult and he also has signs of degenerative joint disease. It "suggests a life [of] labor was more likely for this individual than, say, an existence as a scribe," Stevens said. In both cases, however, the individuals' lives ended with each having a copper alloy ring on one of their toes.
The case of the male individual with the toe ring was published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. More information on the Amarna Project can be found at www.amarnaproject.com.


Polscy archeolodzy odsłonili w Egipcie pozostałości osady sprzed 4,5 tys. lat

Pozostałości osady z okresu budowniczych wielkich piramid (III –VI dynastia) odsłonili w Tell el-Murra w Delcie Nilu archeolodzy z Instytutu Archeologii Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego.

Polacy pracują w Tell el-Murra od 2008 roku. Osada jest położona w północno-wschodniej części Delty Nilu w niedalekim sąsiedztwie innego stanowiska z tego samego okresu – Tell el-Farcha, badanego przez archeologów z Poznania i Krakowa.

Tell el-Murra to niewielkie wzgórze, kryjące pozostałości starożytnej osady, założonej ponad 5500 latem temu. W wyniku trwającego tutaj ponad 1300 lat osadnictwa, w konsekwencji konstruowania w tym samym miejscu kolejnych budynków wykonanych z cegły suszonej, powstało wzniesienie (tell), które teraz sięga kilku metrów powyżej poziomu pól uprawnych.

Wykopaliska w Tell el-Murra przeprowadzone w kwietniu i maju tego roku przeprowadzono głównie w północno-wschodniej części stanowiska, zajmowanej przez osadę. Celem prac było potwierdzenie wysuwanych na podstawie wcześniejszych prac przypuszczeń dotyczących okresu, w jakim zamieszkane było stanowisko.

„Dzięki tegorocznym pracom rozstrzygnęliśmy, że badana przez nas część osady zamieszkana była w okresie Starego Państwa (III – VI dynastia), a więc w czasach, kiedy na położonej w okolicach współczesnego Kairu nekropolii memfickiej wznoszono wielkie piramidy” – wyjaśnia PAP kierownik badań dr Mariusz Jucha.

W trakcie wykopalisk odsłonięto pozostałości budynków o charakterze mieszkalno - gospodarczym. Na szczególną uwagę, zdaniem archeologów, zasługuje duża liczba pomieszczeń wykonanych na planie okręgu. Były to silosy do
magazynowanie zboża. Największy spośród nich, wykonany z suszonych cegieł, liczył ok. 3,5 m średnicy. W ich pobliżu odsłonięto również budynki złożone z prostokątnych pomieszczeń.

„Nadal nie jest dla nas jasne, co spowodowało, iż mieszkańcy Tell el-Murra opuścili to miejsce pod koniec okresu Starego Państwa. Dlaczego osada, której początki na podstawie wyników uzyskanych w poprzednich sezonach wykopaliskowych określono na ok. 3500 p.n.e., została porzucona po prawie 1300 latach istnienia?” – zastanawia się dr Jucha.

Budynki wznoszone pod koniec istnienia osadnictwa w Tell el-Murra są zdecydowanie skromniejsze w porównaniu ze starszymi konstrukcjami. Również obszar zajmowany przez osadę były wówczas o wiele mniejszy.

„Wydaje się, iż pierwsze oznaki kryzysu, którego przyczyny jak na razie trudno jednoznacznie określić, pojawiły się zapewne już o wiele wcześniej, mianowicie w okresie wczesnodynastycznym (I –II dynastia)” – stwierdza kierownik badań.

Z nieznanych powodów zmniejszyły się wówczas rozmiary osady. Prawdopodobnie wtedy opuszczona została jej południowo-zachodnia część, a teren ten przeznaczono na miejsce chowania zmarłych. Ci z mieszkańców, którzy pozostali na miejscu wznosili swoje domostwa jedynie w części północnej oraz wschodniej stanowiska.

Archeolodzy będą próbowali wyjaśnić te wątpliwości. Najważniejsze będzie dla nich przebadanie w kolejnych sezonach pozostałości osady poprzedzającej okres Starego Państwa, które znajdują się poniżej przebadanych w tym roku budynków.

Polscy badacze kontynuowali również badania w obrębie przylegającego do osady cmentarzyska. Odkryli pochówki z okresu wczesnodynastycznego. Na szczególną uwagę zasługuje – zdaniem kierownika badań - nietypowy pochówek w ceramicznej trumnie, podobnej do tych znalezionych w Tell el-Murra w latach ubiegłych.

„Wykorzystywanie ceramicznych trumien nie było powszechną praktyką stosowaną na innych stanowiskach w Delcie. Ich występowanie w Tell el-Murra wskazuje na istnienie różnic nawet pomiędzy blisko położonymi osadami, a jednocześnie rodzi pytanie o przyczyny zaobserwowanej odmienności” – uważa dr Mariusz Jucha.

Informacje na temat badań dostępne są na oficjalnej stronie projektu badawczego: www.murra.pl

PAP - Nauka w Polsce, Szymon Zdziebłowski

Ancient Anchors from Punic Wars Found Off Sicily

Rossella Lorenzi
A key episode of the Punic Wars has emerged from the waters near the small Sicilian island of Pantelleria as archaeologists discovered a cluster of more than 30 ancient anchors.
Found at a depth between 160 and 270 feet in Cala Levante, one of the island’s most scenic spots, the anchors date to more than 2,000 years ago.
According to Leonardo Abelli, an archaeologist from the University of Sassari, the anchors are startling evidence of the Romans’ and Carthaginians’ struggle to conquer the Mediterranean during the First Punic War (264 to 241 B.C.).
“They were deliberately abandoned. The Carthaginian ships were hiding from the Romans and could not waste time trying to retrieve heavy anchors at such depths,” Abelli told Discovery News.
NEWS: Civil War Steamer Found Off South Carolina
Lying strategically between Africa and Sicily, Pantelleria became a bone of contention between the Romans and Carthaginians during the third century B.C.
Rome captured the small Mediterranean island in the First Punic War in 255 B.C., but lost it a year later.
In 217 B.C., in the Second Punic War, Rome finally regained the island, and even celebrated the event with commemorative coins and a holiday.
Following the first conquer in 255 B.C., Rome took control of the island with a fleet of over 300 ships.
“The Carthaginian ships that were stationing near Pantelleria had no other choice than hiding near the northern coast and trying to escape. To do so, they cut the anchors free and left them in the sea. They also abandoned part of their cargo to lighten the ships and gain speed,” Abelli said.
NEWS: Smuggled Cargo Found on Ancient Roman Ship
Indeed, Abelli’s team found many jars in clusters of 4-10 pieces near the spectacular Punta Tracino, not far from where the anchors were found.
Two years ago, the same team found 3,500 Punic coins about 68 feet down. Dating between 264 and 241 B.C., the bronze coins featured the same iconography, suggesting that the money served for an institutional payment, possibly to sustain anti-Roman troops.
Carried on a Carthaginian ship headed to Sicily, the money was deliberately left on the bottom of the sea, in relatively low waters, with the hope of recovering it later.
“Near the coins we found a large stone anchor with three holes and a tree trunk. We believe they were signaling the point where the treasure was hidden,” Abelli said.
Underwater research is set to continue until mid-July. The project is founded by Arcus Spa and realized by Pantelleria Ricerche with the Sicily Region Sea Superintendency, the University of Sassari and Messina Coast Guard.


Archaeologists find secret chamber at Drum Castle

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered a secret medieval chamber and its ancient loo - hidden for centuries - during a conservation scheme to protect the oldest castle keep in Scotland.
The remarkable discovery has been made at the 700-year-old medieval tower at the National Trust for Scotland’s Drum Castle near Banchory
Drum Castle, the seat of the Chief of Clan Irvine for centuries, has the oldest keep in Scotland and is the oldest intact building in the care of the trust.
The trust is planning to bring in specialists to remove cement pointing on the ancient tower and replace it with traditional, breathable lime mortar to help preserve the historic keep.
And the hidden chamber - complete with its medieval toilet - was uncovered while initial archaeological investigations were being conducted by Dr Jonathan Clark from FAS Heritage.
Dr Clark explained: “We knew that there were hidden passages because there were window openings at first floor level, but we couldn’t see from the inside of the tower where the windows were because they are hidden by the bookshelves of the nineteenth century library.
“So we set out to unblock two window openings on the west face of the tower to establish the form and condition of these interior spaces. Before we unblocked the windows we wondered if the passages had been filled up with rubble at some point in the history of the evolution of the ancient tower and that there would be nothing to see.”
He continued: “We were surprised that when we carefully unblocked the windows and peered in, and through the dim light of a torch and the mists of dust and trapped for centuries, to find a perfectly preserved medieval chamber, complete with the remains of the guarderobe (toilet) including the remains of the original toilet seat and the original entrance doorway for the medieval hall.”
Dr Clark said: ““This adds greatly to our knowledge of how the interior of the Tower of Drum was used in the medieval period. In due course it should contribute to a greater knowledge of how fourteenth century towers were used in their heyday.”
The archaeologists also discovered a second secret chamber in the tower today as their investigations continued.
Dr Clark revealed: “As work continued this morning, we made another exciting discovery – a second chamber which legend says is where Mary Irvine hid her brother for three years after defeat in the Battle of Culloden. This is a huge discovery for Drum.
“We will now be carefully photographing and measuring what we have discovered so that we can add it to the plans that we have been preparing on the Tower of Drum as part of the bigger project of conservation and archaeological investigation on this important castle.”
Drum Castle, which also features a Jacobean wing and later Victorian remodelling, was developed by generations of Irvines from the 13th Century to 1975, having been given the land by King Robert the Bruce. Legend has it that the barony, and the holly on the Irvine crest, were awarded after William de Irwyn guarded the king sleeping under a bush of the spiky plant.


Massacre dating back 2,300 years in the Crimea

Chersonesos is an ancient city on the Crimean peninsula, which was founded by Greek colonists at the end of the 6th century BC in order to supply their homeland with grain and other strategic resources. The farmland in the Greek colonies was vital to the survival of the Greek city-states. Excavations by Aarhus archaeologists are exploring the development of the rural area from its peak until its decline.
Archaeologists working at the site:  Image: Vladirmir Stolba
Archaeologists working at the site: Image: Vladirmir Stolba
One of the conclusions so far is that during a period of crisis in the early 3rd century BC a large proportion of the rural population was killed following a military invasion. The skeletons of these people can be found just 40 cm beneath the surface of the soil in a number of housing structures which the Aarhus archaeologists have excavated.
We’ve learned things that have changed our view of what life was like in the Chersonesean countryside, which the Greeks called chora. The city’s rural territory, particularly on the Herakleian and Tarkhankut peninsulas, is incredibly well preserved. The houses of the rural population dating back to about 300 BC lie dotted around the untouched landscape in the form of ruins that are still visible. For instance, in one of the excavated ruins we have found the remains of a whole family. So we’re working on a murder scene dating back 2,300 years,” reports project director Vladimir Stolba, an archaeologist from Aarhus University.
For more than 10 years now, archaeologists from Aarhus University in Denmark have been leading a series of excavations by the Black Sea. Image: Jens Andresen
For more than 10 years now, archaeologists from Aarhus University in Denmark have been leading a series of excavations by the Black Sea. Image: Jens Andresen
UNESCO world heritage site
Chersonesos and its rural area have just been added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites – the area is a unique example of the way the ancient Greek cities and surrounding landscape were organised.
We’ve had several teams of students from Denmark and the host country Ukraine on our expeditions. It’s been a great experience and very fruitful collaboration. We are in a lucky and, in a sense, unique situation to work on short-lived rural sites which have never been re-inhabited since their destruction in the early 3rd century BC.
“The picture that emerges from the excavations is a snapshot of daily activities of the ancient peasantry, of its life and dramatic death. We’ve found answers to many of our research questions: for instance, who cultivated the Greek grain fields, how densely the area was settled and how it was organised, and how the ancient population adapted to changes in cultural and natural environment.
“The answers have given rise to new questions that we want to explore next. The world heritage status will hopefully help to preserve this unique area despite the increase in tourism and tourism infrastructure development, enabling us to continue our work,” concludes Vladimir Stolba.
Source: Aarhus University


Y a los 77 años Miguel Angel resucitó


Día 08/07/2013 - 01.35h

Restituyen en Florencia un «San Juan Bautista» del maestro, destrozado en 1936, durante la Guerra Civil, en la Capilla del Salvador de Úbeda

No todos los días podemos presumir de que una escultura de Miguel Ángel forme parte del patrimonio artístico español. En 1936, la Guerra Civil española no solo segó miles de vidas; también el arte fue víctima de la barbarie. El 26 de julio hubo un asalto a la Capilla del Salvador de Úbeda (Jaén), reconvertida en garaje. Cuentan que fue obra de la Sección Ferroviaria de Linares de la CNT. Sea verdad o no, algunas de las joyas que atesoraba en su interior fueron destruidas: es el caso de un retablo de Berruguete (fue arrancado y quemado; sólo se salvó la figura del Salvador, que no lograron tumbar
También se hallaba allí una escultura de 1,3 metros que representaba a San Juan Bautista niño. No tuvieron piedad con ella: la destrozaron. Solo se han conservado 17 fragmentos, entre ellos un trozo de la cabeza, que fue arrojada a una hoguera. El mármol de Carrara del que estaba hecho quedó ennegrecido irreversiblemente. Esa escultura fue modelada por Miguel Ángel Buonarroti, que es como decir que fue esculpida por Dios. Pero la guerra no entiende de genios...

Restitución, no reproducción

Y a los 77 años Miguel Ángel resucitó

Los 17 fragmentos recuperados

En 1994 los 17 fragmentos viajaron hasta Florencia. Los depositó allí la Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, que preside Ignacio Medina, duque de Segorbe. Su destino: el prestigioso Opificio delle Pietre Dure, única institución capaz de obrar un milagro de tal envergadura. Diecienueve años llevan allí los restos. Durante los diecisiete primeros no se tocaron –la restauración sólo se realizó en el último año y medio–: en ese tiempo se llevó a cabo una ardua y exhaustiva labor de investigación y se buscó la metodología de trabajo precisa, que presentaba no pocas complejidades técnicas.

Cita Juan Manuel Albendea, director general de la Fundación Casa Ducal de Medinaceli, un ejemplo: había que crear las piernas de un material moderno que aguantara el peso de los fragmentos originales: solo la cadera (la zona mejor conservada) pesa 50 kilos; a ellos habría que sumar 30 más, los que pesaban los restos del busto y la cabeza. Las partes nuevas no serían de mármol. Era preciso distinguir lo que es original y lo que no. Porque lo tienen claro: esto ha sido una restitución fiel de la obra de Miguel Ángel, no una reproducción, un falso histórico.

Reconstrucción volumétrica en 3D

A partir de 17 fotografías antiguas, rescatadas de archivos de todo el mundo, se logró tener una vista de la escultura desde casi todos los ángulos, lo cual permitió la reconstrucción volumétrica en 3D de la pieza: se sabía con total exactitud dónde debía ir cada fragmento conservado y dónde las piezas nuevas. Realizadas en plexiglás y resina, en su interior tienen una estructura de acero inoxidable. Incluso se previó que en un futuro pudiera aparecer algún nuevo fragmento: el proceso es reversible, pues el montaje de la escultura se ha hecho con imanes. Finalmente, se limpiaron los fragmentos originales con láser. ¿Hay esperanza de que aparezcan más fragmentos? «El desbarajuste de la Guerra Civil fue tal que mucha gente pudo coger piezas. Otra cosa es que se conserven. Es posible que quien las tenga ni siquiera lo sepa», explica Albendea.

Los días 24 y 25 de junio se celebró en Florencia un congreso internacional bajo el título «Il San Giovannino di Ubeda restituito» para presentar las conclusiones de los trabajos de restitución de esta escultura. Tras explicar la metodología aplicada, se expuso la teoría de su atribución a Miguel Ángel. Ya lo hizo en 1930 Manuel Gómez Moreno, pero sin demasiado rigor metodológico. «No basta con decir que es de Miguel Ángel. Hay que demostrarlo», advierte Albendea.

El «San Giovannino mediceo» perdido

Quien sí tuvo rigor metodológico de sobra fue Francesco Caglioti, catedrático de la Universidad Federico II de Nápoles. Autor de un pormenorizado estudio de la escultura durante 12 años, concluye que el «San Juan Bautista niño» de Úbeda es en realidad el «San Giovannino mediceo» del que Vasari habla, pero se creía perdido. Para su autoría se basó en el análisis y comparación estilística con la obra juvenil de Miguel Ángel; especialmente, con obras como «Bacchus» y la «Madonna de Manchester».

La data hacia 1495-96. Apenas tenía 20 años. Aún no había hecho las esculturas que le harían inmortal:el «David», la «Piedad», el «Moisés»... Además, Caglioti dio con la pista de cómo llegó la escultura a Úbeda a manos de Francisco de los Cobos, secretario de Carlos V. «Quien quiera rebatir a Caglioti, va a necesitar mucho tiempo», advierte Albendea. ¿Cómo se han financiado los trabajos de esta restitución? «Gracias a un fondo del Gobierno italiano para restaurar obras dañadas en conflictos civiles; la Fundación ha contribuido en algunas cuestiones». No sabe cuánto ha costado:«Habrá sido mucho dinero». ¿En cuánto podría estar valorada hoy? «No hay ninguna intención de venderla».

La escultura está expuesta al público este mes en el Opificio delle Pietre Dure. En septiembre irá a la catedral de Bolonia y en octubre al Palazzo Grimani de Venecia. En diciembre regresará a casa, a Úbeda. Una parte de la Capilla del Salvador se adaptará como museo: albergará obras que sobrevivieron a la Guerra Civil: el «San Juan Bautista niño», un cáliz de oro de Carlos V, un arca veneciana, la reproducción del retablo de Berruguete... Mientras tanto, podría exponerse en algún museo público.

Los sucesivos propietarios de la obra


La escultura fue encargada a Miguel Ángel en 1495 por Lorenzo de Pierfrancesco de Médicis, «Il Popolano». Se hallaba en la residencia de esta rama menor de los Médicis (los Popolani) al menos hasta 1537. El patrimonio familiar pasó de manos de Lorenzino (huyó de Florencia tras asesinar al duque Alessandro) a Cosimo I. Se ha encontrado un documento en el que consta que en 1537 se envió, vía Cartagena, una «statua molto preziosa» a Francisco de los Cobos, secretario imperial de Carlos V –estuvo 40 años junto a él–, quien había empezado a erigir su panteón en Úbeda, su villa natal. En 1547 este «San Juan Bautista niño» aparece documentado en el inventario post-mortem de Francisco de los Cobos. Gran coleccionista, introdujo a Tiziano en la Corte de Carlos V y recibió importantes regalos de los príncipes italianos, como una «Piedad» de Sebastiano del Piombo.