Wednesday, June 4, 2008

AAMD Issues New Acquisition Guidelines for Antiquities

The AAMD has issued new acquisition guidelines for antiquities. For details, see:

The new guidelines abandon the previous "rolling 10 year" provenance period in favor of a 1970 date that has been relentlessly pushed by source countries and their allies within the archaeological community. The AAMD guidelines also leave some "wiggle room" where ownership history is incomplete, but only under circumstances that suggest that the item has a good provenance.

As an organization, the AAMD is obviously offering an "olive branch" to source countries and the archaeological community.

Will source countries now reciprocate with internal reforms such as the creation of licit markets and programs like the British Treasure Act that encourage finders to report their finds?

Will archaeologists now change their focus from denouncing museums to publishing their finds promptly?

I tend to doubt it. Rather, I fear this change will be viewed as a capitulation. If so, it will only encourage source countries to continue their failed policies and members of the archaeological community to focus much of their attention on the "ethics of collecting" rather than on the "ethics of archaeology."

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

The AIA has issued a statement praising the new guidelines, but it does not make any reference to the AAMD's call for licit markets in source countries.

For more, see: