Friday, April 29, 2011

ANS Database Upgraded

The American Numismatic Society has upgraded the ability of scholars and collectors to search its extensive collection of ancient coins. For more, see

As the story explains,

The new search tool is an open source implementation of several applications used in the Library, Archive, and Museum communities, including Apache Solr for faceted searching. The tool enables users to interact with the ANS collection through keyword searches or by browsing and sorting on numerous categorical and physical attributes common to numismatics. This search tool connects individual objects together by these searchable attributes, allowing users to seamlessly navigate from one object to its relations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

None of their Business?

It's odd to see Archaeo-Blogger Paul Barford and other archaeologists criticising the Governments of Singapore and Indonesia over an exhibit about a wreck that was excavated according to the laws of Indonesia. See

Barford and the others don't like the fact that a foreign government entered into a public-private partnership with a commercial salvor to excavate the site rather than fund some University to do it, but I doubt taxpayers in Indonesia are complaining.

Frankly, given the costs involved, it's doubtful that the wreck would have been professionally salvaged at all without offering a private salvor an incentive to do it. Rather, it's far more likely that local fishermen would have mined the wreck for items without recording them. Perhaps, the situation is not ideal, but the Indonesian government seems to have taken a realistic approach to to the issue.

In any case, dosn't Barford usually claim it's no business of foreigners to lecture source countries on how to manage their own cultural resources?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Open Government Watchdog Criticises DC Circuit Decision

An advocate for open government has criticised the DC Circuit decision in the ACCG-IAPN-PNG FOIA case. See

Meanwhile, predictably at least one self-appointed spokesman for the archaeological community is gloating about the ruling while at the same time attacking the DC Circuit's decision to require State to further justify its search and its withholding of one document. See

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ruling in the ACCG-IAPN-PNG FOIA Case

The DC Circuit has affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the District Court in the ACCG-IAPN-PNG FOIA case. See

Overall, the ruling supports the Department of State's efforts to keep its decision making secret from the public.-- this despite the Obama Administration's claims that it is the "most transparent" in history. Moreover, as we have seen from the recent CPRI seminar, such secrecy has been used to cover up results oriented short cuts designed to ensure the broadest application of import restrictions on cultural goods. Any benefits confidentiality brings to decision making should never come at the expense of encouraging evasion of legal process.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hawass Soap Opera Continues

The Washington Post has written about the criticism Hawass has faced in the New Egypt for his ties to the Old Egypt of the Mubarak regime. See

The story notes that a Court has sentenced Hawass to jail for failure to follow its orders. Despite all the criticism from Egyptians, the article indicates that Western archaeologists largely remain supportive-- or at least silent-- about Hawass' problems.

In other news, Hawass also recently revealed that he now has his own clothing line with the proceeds going to charity. See

Charity or not, the Hawass story is quickly becoming more of a soap opera than anything else.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NASA Faces Political Backlash Over Final Shuttle Landings

NASA's space shuttles are not going into quiet retirement in Washington, Florida, New York and Los Angeles. Instead, NASA is facing a backlash from disappointed lawmakers from Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma. See and

NASA suggests that it made awards to Los Angeles and New York based on the number of tourists that visit those areas, but irate Republican lawmakers claim that Democratic politics was behind the decision. Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma trend Republican. In contrast, New York and California trend Democratic. As proof of a political motive, these lawmakers note that the Space Program has a greater connection to the Johnson Space Center and the Air Force museum than either New York or the Los Angeles area.

New Egyptian Antiquities Ministry Complaints Bureau

PhDiva links to this story about a new complaints bureau in the Antiquities Ministry. See,-new-complaints-section-in-antiqu.aspx

While this sounds good in theory, the devil is in the details and the possibility that this will just be used to identify trouble makers cannot be discounted. Also, what about the allegations of corruption already made against Minister Hawass? Will these really be investigated or will they be just swept under the rug?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Archaeological World Silent as World Class Afghan Buddhist Site to be Bulldozed

The Art Newspaper is reporting about limited salvage efforts going on at an important Buddhist site in Afghanistan. See Ths site is scheduled to be destroyed shortly for a Chinese owned copper mine.

Groups like the AIA and SAFE and archaeo-bloggers like Gill and Barford are constantly viligent when it comes to "looting." Yet, they remain strangely silent about the state sanctioned destruction of world class archaeological sites. Are there double standards at work?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Robert Korver Resigns from CPAC to Protest New Restrictions on Coins of Italian Type

Robert Korver has resigned from his position on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee to protest the State Departement Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' and U.S. Customs' decision to impose new import restrictions on "coins of Italian type." See

Such coins had been previously exempted from restrictions in 2001 and 2006. Based on his resignation, it again appears that CPAC recommended against import restrictions, but ECA rejected that advice-- just as it first did on the Cypriot renewal of 2007.

Was this action justified by the facts on the ground (which if anything suggest that all restrictions should be scaled back), or did the bureaucrats at ECA merely act to try to help justify their earlier controversial decision on Cypriot coins and/or what they want to do anyway on the proposed MOU with Greece?

Korver had served on CPAC since 2003.

Hopefully, ECA will be called to account either by Congress or in the pending ACCG test case in Baltimore.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cut and Paste Journalism at the Huffington Post?

Archaeo-Blogger Paul Barford and friends are busily promoting Daniel Grant's advocacy piece on the Huffington Post as yet another "well written" expose of the antiquities trade, museums and the need for provenance research. See and

The article features such luminaries from the archaeological world as Clemency Coggins, Ricardo Elia, and Professor Patty Gerstenblith.

Writers of such advocacy nonetheless often also contact representatives from the "other side"of an issue to give the piece "balance." And so Grant appears to have done based on the quotes from attorney Bill Pearlstein, who according to the article represents "the National Association of Dealers in Ancient and Oriental Art." There is, however, one problem. When I forwarded the article to Bill Pearlstein, he indicated he did not recall speaking to Grant. And, he has not represented the National Association of Dealers in Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Art for some five years. Is it possible that Grant used an old quote from somewhere else to provide perceived balance?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Cultural Property Implementation Act: Is it Working?

The CPRI has placed the transcript of its seminar, "The Cultural Property Implementation Act: Is it Working?" on its website:

There are a lot of troubling allegations here, but to me one of the most disturbing is that CPAC is denied access to its own reports. If so, how can they and we be sure that CPAC's recommendations are conveyed to the decision maker accurately?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Return that Loot!

Egyptology Today ( reports that world famous archaeologist Zani Hanass has turned down a reappointment to the post of Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities in order to host a new reality television show on the Discoverme Channel called, “Return that Loot!”

World Famous Archaeologist to Host “Return that Loot!”
Hollywood, California, April 1, 2011

World famous archaeologist Zani Hanass announced today that he has turned down reappointment as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, and instead will host a new reality television show on the Discoverme Channel called, “Return that Loot!” Each week Hanass will visit a different museum to tell the story about how an artifact was acquired for the collection. He will then poll an audience made up of archaeologists as to whether or not the artifact should be repatriated to its country of origin. To add both interest and authenticity to the show, guest stars dressed in period costume will assist Hanass with the polling and help tell the stories of each artifact. Hanass and Discoverme have declined to name who will appear on the program, but Egyptology Today has confirmed that one of the stars of Syfi’s “Stargrate” will be featured in the first episode.

“I’ve had my fill of those vipers in Egyptian politics,” said Hanass. He continued, “I’m already a world famous archaeologist, and now it’s time for me to become a world famous television personality.” Asked to comment, Gill Barmore, a spokesman for the archaeological advocacy group “Saving Antiquities from Everyone” was ecstatic. “Zani has promised us that SAFRE members will always be welcome in the audience for his new show. We’re already planning a road trip to Hollywood to see Zani take down his first museum. We hope he will soon expand his sights to individual collectors—though we realize he better be careful, one never knows which Hollywood mogul might have a XXIst Dynasty Sarcophagus in his living room,” said Barmore.

“Return that Loot!” is scheduled to begin production next month. The first episode will be aired on Discoverme on April 1, 1212.