1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cesnola, Luigi Palma di

CESNOLA, LUIGI PALMA DI (1832–1904), Italian-American soldier and archaeologist, was born near Turin on the 29th of July 1832. Having served in the Austrian and Crimean Wars, in 1860 he went to New York, where he taught Italian and French and founded a military school for officers. He took part in the American Civil War as colonel of a cavalry regiment, and at Aldie (June 1863) was wounded and taken prisoner. He was released from Libby prison early in 1864, served in the Wilderness and Petersburg campaigns (1864–65) as a brigadier of cavalry, and at the close of the war was breveted brigadier-general. He was then appointed United States consul at Larnaca in Cyprus (1865–1877). During his stay in the island he carried on excavations, which resulted in the discovery of a large number of antiquities. The collection was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and Cesnola became director in 1879. Doubt having been thrown by Gaston L. Feuerdant, in an article in the New York Herald (August 1880), upon the genuineness of his restorations, the matter was referred to a special committee, which pronounced in his favour.[1] He is the author of Cyprus, its ancient Cities, Tombs and Temples (1877), an interesting book of travel and of considerable service to the practical antiquary; and of a Descriptive Atlas of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriote Antiquities (3 vols., 1884–6). He died in New York on the 21st of November 1904. He was a member of several learned societies in Europe and America, and in 1897 he received a Congressional medal of honour for conspicuous military services.

His brother, Alessandro Palma di Cesnola, born in 1839, conducted excavations at Paphos (where he was U.S. vice-consul) and Salamis on behalf of the British government. The results of these are described in Salaminia (1882).

  1. For the Cesnola controversy see C. D. Cobham’s Attempt at a Bibliography of Cyprus (4th ed., 1900). See also article Cyprus.