Monday, February 13, 2012

Athens Burns

Rioting has erupted in Athens over the austerity measures the country now faces. See Apparently, some historic buildings were torched overnight.

Both the Greek and Egyptian national museums are sited right in the midst of anti-government demonstrations. Yet, as Athens smolders and Cairo seethes with discontent, archaeologists and UNESCO are still advocating returning the return of artifacts to their country of origin no matter how unstable or underfunded they might be.

In insurance parlance, this is called "concentration risk," and it is not a good thing if the actual point is to conserve artifacts. After all, disaster is just one petrol bomb away.


kyri said...

hi peter,these countrys are only asking for the returns of antiquities that have been illegaly acquired[or to put it in plain english stolen].im all for encyclopedic museums but everyone has to abide by the rule of law.
"one petrol bomb away"
i live 3 miles away from tottenham in north london and believe me,what happend over hear in the summer,make the riots in greece look like a tea party.the us have had their fare share of riots to.i dred to think what would happen in the uk if we had to suffer the cuts that greece has.the term,people living in green houses shouldnt throw stones comes to mind.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thanks. 1. I'm afraid that DOS holds that unprovenanced equals stolen so I disagree with you what Greece wants.

2. I agree, there has been rioting in the UK, but it has not been right near the BM like it has been near the museums in Athens and Cairo. Also, I'm not aware of the Brits seeking repatriations anywhere near as aggressively as the Greeks and Egyptians do.

3. Again, if the point is to protect artifacts as opposed to pumping up some other value (like nationalism or contol of one's patrimony) then concentration is not a good idea, be it in Athens or London.

kyri said...

peter,you know as well as i do that most,if not all the antiquities repatriated had nothing to do with being provenanced or unprovenanced,most were in photographic files created by the looters [except for a few others like the weary hercules]and the evidence for them being illicitly excavated was overwhelming.
as for the rioting not being near the bm,well the bm is not the only museum we have in london but in saying that i dont think that there was one part of london which didnt have rioting and looting,practicaly every bourough did.
do you realy think that dos holds that unprovenanced equals stolen.

Cultural Property Observer said...

You've been reading too much Gill who publicises these things. Most items that are seized by US Customs are repatriated because it is not worth the financial cost of fighting the detention and seizure. There is no actual photographic evidence they were looted.

Unprovenanced items on the growing number of designated lists (latest Greece) are subject to repatriation. And yes, the State Department and US Customs considers unprovenanced to be stolen, which justifies the repatriation.

Don't believe me? Then read the briefs in the ACCG test case that are available on the ACCG website.

Ed Snible said...

Looks like ancient statues are being specifically targeted for destruction in the Maldives (an island nation in the Indian Ocean.)
New York Times, Daily Mail UK

Max Fubar said...

Amazing how these are the governments that want to have all their ancient artifacts back, yet cannot protect them in the least! All they did was put everything in one basket that enables one person to wipe out a few thousand years of history. Then the counterfeiters and forgers will recreate many of these sort of pieces and sell them on the market as real. There aree no existing copies to compare it to because the only ones were burned when they sacked the museum. USA MoUs with Greece, Italy and Cyprius is to only allow those controlling the antiquities market to resell what they gave away years ago. This time instead of getting $100, they get $10,000. The corruption ensures this.