Title: The Lost Chalice: The Epic Hunt for a Priceless Masterpiece
Author: Vernon Silver
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Lost Chalice follows two different pieces by the famed ancient Greek artist Euphrenios – a krater and a lost kylix, or chalice – and their discovery during modern day times. Matching pieces featuring the death of Sarpedon, the son of Zeus, both are priceless. Silver follows the path of the krater from its initial discovery, while trying to shed light on the location of the kylix.
I’ve always been interested in books about archaeology and art, so when I first heard about The Lost Chalice, I was definitely intrigued. The thought of reading about a priceless artifact from beginning to end really piqued my interest.
The Lost Chalice was adapted from Silver’s doctoral thesis and it does show at times. There are definitely some dry spots. That being said, overall it was a well-constructed narrative that effectively depicted the journey of the Sarpedon krater, as well as the rumors and whispers about the chalice. Silver clearly did his research and that fact shines through, even when the book is slow.
Anyone with an interest in antiquities trade or in tomb-robbing should definitely pick up this book. Silver includes some fascinating tidbits on how to fake provenance (though these methods are now closed) and how authorities go about proving an item was illicitly removed from an archaeological site. Silver frames the narrative as a detective story, and though the reader knows some of the answers from the beginning, the search for the others will keep them hooked until the very end.