Thursday, February 12, 2015

Preservation or Repatriation?

As expected, the UN Security Council has approved a Russian resolution that appears calculated to buttress Putin's friend, Assad, as much as anything else.

The aim is purportedly to help cut into ISIS' funding by clamping down on sales of Syrian antiquities, but the result will be the repatriation of  undocumented objects that have been out of the country for years back to the exact same murderous regime that bombed the old city of Aleppo into oblivion, that has struck early Islamic sites and whose military is involved in looting in places like Apamea and Palmyra.

So what's next?   In the UK, the sensible Brits plan to focus on using existing law to address the problem.  And in the US?  Will the archaeological lobby again use the tragedy to resurrect self-serving legislation that will enrich itself?  Or, will they follow the example of their Syrian, Dutch and U. Penn colleagues and seek to address the problem at the source?

1 comment:

John H said...

Mr Tompa...If as reported, hundreds of thousands of looted artifacts are stored in depots across Syria, all contextual data surrounding them is already lost forever. Nevertheless, they still have a certain monetary and intrinsic value.

The alternative - as some radicals suggest - is to lay them on the ground and have a bulldozer run over them. Do we really want to engage in such heritage vandalism?

Is it not a better option to welcome those artifacts onto the market where they will be preserved and cosseted in private collections and possibly museums?

Best regards

John Howland