Monday, September 30, 2013

Antiquities Openly Available for Sale in Afghanistan-- But You Can't Purchase Them!

That's the message from an archaeologist embedded in the Australian army, a message consistent with that preached by the Archaeological Institute of America, which has also been embedded with our troops.  But antiquity trading has a long tradition in Afghanistan, and the poor farmers that find things while digging in their fields could certainly use the money.  And while I'm not for looting archaeological sites, the usual claim-- that looting deprives archaeologists of the opportunity to find material "in context"-- would not seem to be a realistic concern here.  Or, perhaps I'm unaware of all the archaeologists lining up to excavate in Afghanistan these days.  Indeed, what's more likely is that the Taliban will take power again-- and we all know how they feel about antiquities-- they love to smash them!  Under the circumstances, what's really wrong with Australian or American soldiers for that matter bringing home a small piece of Afghan history with them? Though of course the troops should follow all directions they receive from their superiors, perhaps such rules should be reconsidered.  If anything, such objects might help encourage some much needed cultural understanding.

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