Sunday, February 2, 2014

Time to Save Egyptian Antiquities?

The archaeological blogosphere has largely ignored the wanton destruction of artifacts in the Egyptian Islamic Museum.   And no wonder.  The bombing of the museum along with last year's burning of an important library and looting of several museums offer precious little support for the proposition that "emergency import restrictions" and the like should be implemented to repatriate artifacts to Egypt, including ones long out of that country.

If anything, all this instead supports the proposition that important artifacts-- particularly those from Egypt's pre-Islamic past--should be sent out of the country for safekeeping while duplicates of less important material are sold on the open market to raise funds to help protect the rest.   Collectors and Museums in the United States, Europe and the Gulf States will no doubt be willing to help.   So let's all support the protection of Egyptian antiquities by seeing them safely out of Egypt as quickly as possible.  It's as simple as that.  


Paul Barford said...

Tell me if there'd been a museum at the foot of the World Trade Centre crushed by falling debris on 9/11, would you also have been writing about the "wanton destruction of the Museum"?

Or is it just in brown-skinned people's countries you place the artefacts over the loss of life in terrorist attack?

So, you and your collectors' friends would like to see countries such as Egypt denuded of "all important artifacts-- particularly those from Egypt's pre-Islamic past"?

And pray tell us, why "particularly those from Egypt's pre-Islamic past" when your argument stems from the fact that an important museum of Islamic objects was damaged? Is Egypt's Islamic history not a vital part of world history? I am sure it is.

John H said...

I'm sure many of your readers will find Paul Barford's latest rant up to his usual form; here he demonstrates his unique slant on dual standards along with what many see as his 'dodgy' ethics. He writes that:

"You really have to be a sad individual to joke like Bailey and Ehrenberg's Peter Tompa about the loss of life in a terrorist attack......" et al, ad nauseum.

In an attempt to prove he is made of sterner stuff, he decorates his blog on which he censures you with a photo of a dead/wounded arab covered in blood.

Any faint background noises you might hear, will surely be Paul Barford scraping the inside of the barrel.


John Howland

Cultural Property Observer said...

For Mr. Barford, I'm not sure what 9/11 has to do with this and of course nothing about the Egyptian Military Dictatorship or the brewing civil war in Egypt is really very funny. But what is worth commenting on is the unthinking repatriationist view that everything old should be returned to the country of origin even in such situations. Pre-Islamic cultural artifacts are most at risk. Ask the Copts about what has happened to their churches as the police have stood idly by. Earlier material is also at risk--certainly some strident Islamic fanatics believe this material should be destroyed. I think a fatwa about this was publicized some time ago.
But of course, there are some serious Muslim collectors in the Gulf-- a good thing. Note I see them as helping here too if encouraged to do so.

Paul Barford said...

"nothing about the Egyptian Military Dictatorship"
Sorry, was that the word "coup" from Washington?

Cultural Property Observer said...

More State Department word games. A military dictatorship is just that and so is a coup. And first discovered within and subject to the export control of a UNESCO State Party should be clear and unambiguous as well. Don't you agree?

Paul Barford said...

[US refusal to use the word "coup" to refer to Egypt]:"More State Department word games."
More US hypocrisy and wavering in foreign policy.

Yes I agree with you the CCPIA should be written in a way that leaves "no kid behind" when it comes to interpreting what the various parts of it mean. It seems it is not, and collectors are getting left behind.