Thursday, November 5, 2009

1970 Provenance Date for Auction Houses?

SAFE associated Blogger David Gill has proposed that auction houses should adopt a 1970 date when dealing in archaeological material. See and Looting Matters: Should Auction-Houses Be More Careful Over Antiquities?

Gill's proposal begs an obvious question: What to do about the thousands upon thousands of unprovenanced "orphan" artifacts currently in collections?

Last April Fools' day, I jokingly suggested that repatriated artifacts could be "recontextualized." See

But what would Gill really suggest happen to these "orphan" artifacts?

Though AAMD associated museums are no longer accessioning such material, such "orphan" artifacts remain important parts of their collections.

Don't collectors also have an obligation to ensure that "orphan" artifacts continue to be preserved, studied and displayed? If they cannot be transmitted to another collector who will care for them, what will then become of these "orphans?"

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