Where in the world is the Apollo of Gaza? Or, perhaps more appropriately, where in the Gaza Strip?
The archaeology world has been abuzz recently over a mysterious find that vanished soon after it was reportedly discovered last summer.
Local fisherman Jouda Ghurab claims that in August of last year he spied a bronze statue in the shallow waters of the Mediterranean, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. After four hours, Ghurab was able to retrieve what turned out to be an approximately six foot tall statue of the Greek god Apollo and brought it back to his house.
But once at his home in Deir al-Balah, southwest of Gaza City, the situation quickly got out of hand, notes the Sunday Times. Members of a brigade associated with Hamas confiscated Ghurab’s statue, which was in turn confiscated by Gaza’s interior ministry. The statue has not been seen in public since.
Before it was hidden away, however, a few blurry photos of the statue were taken, tantalizing clues for an archaeological community anxious to independently verify the artwork. Green from age, the statue depicts a strapping young god with tightly curled hair and one arm outstretched.
From these pictures, experts have preliminarily dated the statue to between the 5th and the 1st century BCE, reports Reuters. If in fact 2,000 years old, the extremely rare statue is in amazing condition for its age, not to mention valuable.
“It’s unique. In some ways I would say it is priceless,” Jean-Michel de Tarragon of the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem told Reuters television. “It’s like people asking what is the [value] of the painting La Gioconda [the Mona Lisa] in the Louvre museum. It’s very, very rare to find a statue which is not in marble or in stone, but in metal.”
Estimates of the monetary value of the artwork vary from $500,000 to $40 million. However, due to the polarizing political climate in the Gaza region, it may be very difficult to sell or even display the statue to outside buyers, according to the Sunday Times.