Monday, February 23, 2009

SAFE, "Looting Matters," and Unanswered Questions

For the most part, I have found that commenting on any of the blogs associated with Saving Antiquities for Everyone ("SAFE") to be an exercise in frustration. Now, I usually don't bother, unless I feel a response is warranted to correct the record as to my own views or those of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, a group with which I am affiliated.

In any event, in the context of commenting on the SAFE and "Looting Matters" blogs, I posed two questions, which have yet to be answered.

The first relates to what SAFE believes should be the standard for "due diligence" for collectors of minor, portable antiquities, like ancient coins. Does this mean tracing the provenance of something back to 1970, the date that the AAMD finally adopted after harsh criticism by the archaeological community of an earlier "10 year rolling provenance" requirement or some less onerous showing to make? If SAFE (and the AIA) are adament about a 1970 date, I see no room for compromise. If, on the other hand, SAFE is only concerned about keeping "fresh" material off the market, perhaps there is room for further discussion.

The second question was for David Gill, who has tirelessly blogged in favor of repatriation of artifacts from museums like the Met. I asked, "Should Greece return an Athenian Decadrachm [a rare ancient coin] to Turkey based on allegations it was illicitly excavated there? By way of background, there have been allegations that the Greek National Coin Collection accessioned one of these coins that allegedly was found in Turkey.

Thus, the first question seeks information about the goals of archaeological advocacy groups like SAFE. The second question tests whether calls for repatriation are being made in a consistent fashion. To me at least these seem like reasonable questions that deserve answers from those who hold themselves up as morally superior to collectors, museum professionals and antiquities and coin dealers when it comes to issues of "cultural property."

For the posts where these questions were initially asked, see: and

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Rather than commenting here, David Gill has made his own post in response to this one. See:

Unfortunately, rather than answering my question, he has merely tried to change the subject.