Monday, March 24, 2014

Poor Stewardship Leads to Expensive Cures

Digging is easy.  Preserving for future generations is hard.

One of the more interesting finds at Deadwood, Colorado, was some ancient Chinese coins, which were brought there by 19th Century Chinese Immigrants.  But unfortunately, they were evidently not conserved or stored properly.  Now, authorities are spending thousands of dollars to treat bronze disease which has damaged the coins (which probably only have minimal monetary value).

Well, at least Colorado authorities care enough to spend the money to protect these artifacts.

Meanwhile, the situation is far worse in China.  There, "According to a recent study, half of the relics held by 3,400 state-owned museums are damaged in various ways. Nearly one-fifth of those are severely damaged and need immediate attention. But there are only 2,000 people qualified to do the work. If one of those people renovated 50 relics a year, it would take 150 years to repair all the severely damaged relics."

Yet, an underlying assumption behind the recently renewed MOU with China is that the Chinese State is a good steward for archaeological items.  So, if MOUs don't curb looting and don't help ensure UNESCO State Parties take care of what they already have in their care, why should they be imposed at all, particularly when their only net effect is to damage the interests of museums, the small businesses of the numismatic and antiquities trade and collectors?

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