Thursday, September 26, 2013

ICOM Publishes Red List

ICOM has published a " Red List of Syrian Cultural Objects at Risk" with the support of the State Department's Cultural Heritage Center. While the concept is not itself objectionable, what is objectionable is the message that the objects on the list are presumed "guilty" until proven "innocent:" 

"Museums, auction houses, art dealers and collectors are encouraged not to acquire such objects without having carefully and thoroughly researched their origin and all the relevant legal documentation."

While this may make sense for objects where there is already a reasonable suspicion that they may have been illicitly removed from Syria, it makes little sense for items like Roman coins, which are legally sold and collected most everywhere.

Meanwhile, in the ever more surreal archaeological blogosphere, anti-American Paul Barford demands to know why the Obama Administration has not already entered into a MOU with Syria to protect Syrian cultural patrimony.  To be fair, perhaps Mr. Barford is just trying to be ironic.

In any event, presumably US Customs already feels it has ample authority to interdict illicit Syrian cultural property based on the bewildering array of economic sanctions already in place.


Paul Barford said...

Yes, irony. As I was pointing out, this case shows well the total idiocy of the existing and outdated 1980s US law to selectively "implement" the 1970 UNESCO Convention, if the US actually is sincere about implementing it where especially needed.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to post this comment:

"The ever-undistinguished Mr. Barford has once again revealed himself for being the fool he is. He evidently has forgotten, or never knew, or hardly cared, that countries must ask for an MOU for one to be entertained. If he wants one, he should dial up the number for Mr. Asad, the mass-murderer, and let him know that he'd better contact our State Department right away to get it started. I am sure the request will be entertained with the attention that it, Mr. Asad, and Mr. Barford, who must be joined at the hip, deserve.

A dunce hat for Mr. Barford, jackanape that he is condemned to be. What was the description Shakespeare used for the fellow who told the tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing? Oh, now I remember.

I have tried to find something useful he has done on, by the way. Nothing. Not a single thing.

Warm regards,