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Old controversies and new data: assessing again the polychrome vases from Centuripe


The necropolises of the hill town of Centuripe (EN) in Sicily have been looted since the nineteenth century for obtaining objects that were attractive for antiquities collectors, such as Hellenistic terracotta figurines and the brightly polychrome vases produced by local artisans (known as “Centuripe vases”) that today are scattered throughout a number of museums and private collections over the world. Until recent times, quite many vases have been considered doubtful and sometimes revealed as forgeries. Some “restorers” working in the dark circuit were able either to reproduce the shapes and decorations of ancient vases or to “refresh” their painted surfaces indeed: the interplay between genuine and altered details, tones, and traits makes it very difficult to detect the modern additions and in some cases we have deceiving “palimpsests” that could appear even more “credible” than the genuine decorations. So, an in-depth analysis is needed to appreciate and correctly understand such special products of ancient vase painting.