These atmospheric photographs from the 1930s show Archeologist Count Ugolini discovering Butrint. He was sent to Albania by Mussolini to find ancient Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Venetian ruins. He was a glamorous figure and a film shows him outside his white canvas tent at the excavations. They show a theatre, the shrine of Asclepius and marble statues including the “Goddess of Butrint.”
Ugolini describes uncovering her:
I leapt into the trench convinced that it was a piece of sculpture and replaced him in the delicate task. It really was a head, and one that appeared to have a perfect profile! I washed the sculpture continuously, the better to see it during the delicate task of extraction and revealed a beautiful head whose fine and delicate marble contrasted with the lead-coloured surrounding mud. “It even has a nose! It even has a nose!” cried one of the Albanians. Our anxious experience was not a delusion, as it was one of the crowning moments of our work: the head of the ‘Goddess of Butrint.’
King Zog donated the head to Mussolini but she returned to Tirana in 1982 and is the subject of a novel by Teodor Laço, Korba Mbi Mermere.