Monday, October 26, 2009

When Ancient Artifacts Become Political Pawns

While bloggers steeped in an "archaeology over all" perspective claim that only "looting matters," those cultural property observers with a broader perspective recognize the importance of the political and nationalistic dimensions to the debate about restitution, import restrictions and the like.

Michael Kimmelman has written an interesting article in the New York Times that explores these issues, particularly as they relate to Egypt's latest demands for repatriation against state run museums in France and Germany. See

While some in the archaeological community may claim Kimmelman's analysis is just another one of many "conspiracy theories" fostered by those who do not agree with an "archaeology over all" perspective, I for one cannot agree more with Kimmelman when he says,

That’s what restitution often comes down to these days.

Nationalism by other means.

Politics by proxy.

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