In response to criticism about the state of the monuments there, the British government in 1935 set up a Department of Antiquities in its colony of Cyprus. The instability of its first two years owed much to local intrigues and feuds that the colonial governor, Sir Richmond Palmer, failed to resolve. His equivocal stance was tested when, immediately following a visit to the island in 1936, David Talbot Rice, the Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art at Edinburgh University, submitted to the Colonial Office in London a report criticizing the Department’s work. Dismissed at once by the governor as wildly inaccurate and unhelpful, the report raises questions about Talbot Rice’s possible motives in writing it. The episode reveals the strained nature of metropolis-colony relationships, the fallibility of reports made by visiting experts, and—specifically for the Cyprus case—the governor’s questionable commitment to the new Antiquities Department.

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