Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ponder the Fate of Zeugma

Before the Trustees of  Bowling Green State University seriously consider calls to send mosaics installed in their new arts center to Turkey because some academic claims they might have come from Zeugma, a Turkish site, they should ponder the fate that city-- sunk beneath waters created by a Turkish Government hydroelectric dam.

The Trustees should also consider that the AIA and other archaeological groups that support repatriation -- and which are so quick to jump on collectors, museums, and dealers at the mere whiff of looted art-- instead turn into pussycats when it comes to the decisions of foreign governments to sacrifice whole sites to dams and the like.  Indeed, instead of outrage for inundating Zeugma and many of its magnificent artifacts -- these groups only offered the Turkish Government their thanks for allowing "rescue excavations" that, of course, were largely funded not by the Turkish Government itself, but by an American Foundation.  See   Could this be because American archaeologists are beholden to the Turkish cultural bureacracy for excavation permits? 

It's not all that surprising that the Turkish Government wants to downplay its own calculated destruction of Turkey's archaeological past.  Yet, why should the Trustees of Bowling Green State University ignore Turkey's unclean hands as they consider any repatriation request?

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