Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Advocacy Group Hopes to "Recontextualize" Artifacts

The archaeological advocacy group Saving Antiquities from Everyone ("SAFrE') has announced a new initiative in conjunction with source countries to "recontextualize" artifacts repatriated from collectors and museums. According to SAFrE's spokesman, Gill Barmore, the idea to rebury artifacts is meant to give them a new life for archaeologists.

Certain Native American tribes and Native Hawaiian groups already rebury repatriated artifacts for religious purposes. SAFrE is merely taking this practice international with the help of cultural bureaucrats in countries like Cyprus, Greece and Egypt.

According to Barmore, "context is our religion so it makes sense that we give new context to artifacts which have lost their original context over the years through looting or failure to keep detailed provenance information." When asked what SAFrE plans to do once stocks of repatriated artifacts are gone, he indicated that the group will turn to all those artifacts sitting unstudied in archaeological storerooms around the world. "Let's face it," said Barmore. "Once an artifact sits on the shelf for a decade or so, without being published, the excitement is gone. Reburying the artifacts will give a new generation of archaeologists the thrill of discovery, and who knows, perhaps that will be all the incentive that is needed for them to actually sit down, record the provenance and get the artifact published. It's a win-win for all concerned."

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