I have to admit, I have been meaning to read the Milken Institutes's report mentioned here on my blog: http://culturalpropertyobserver.blogspot.com/2008/12/milken-institue-speaks-on-cultural.html However, a busy spell at work, plus an antiquated computer that makes downloads of this nature exceptionally tedious has thwarted my plans. Anyway, David Gill of the "Looting Matters" blog has saved me the trouble. I was particularly interested to learn what Milken had to say about the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). According to Gill, the nub of the discussion was as follows:
The scheme has also been criticized by some scholars as legalizing looting, promoting the removal of artifacts by amateurs. Proponents of the plan counter that the looting was happening already and that the scheme encourages those who have looted to at least document what was taken and from where, preserving minimal cultural context.
I have a differnt take. I suspect that the Milken Institute's pejorative analysis probably says much more about the jaundiced views of the those who organized its conference than anything else. In contrast, the British Government and most commentators have viewed the Treasure Act and PAS in a much more positive light.
Where members of the archaeological community that dominated the Milken Institute's conference may have viewed the Treasure Act and PAS as a "license to loot," others --including many prominent archaeologists and archaeological groups-- instead see the Treasure Act and PAS as a successful program that brings archaeologists and members of the public together to help study and preserve artifacts from the past. Even some not normally friendly to the interests of collectors, like Lord Renfrew and the AIA, have voiced support for the PAS during a recent debate over funding for the program. Hopefully, the Milken Institute will reevaluate its own stance on the Treasure Act and PAS in the not too distant future.