Monday, November 18, 2013

The Perils of a Registration System

It's an article of faith in elements within the archaeological community that registration systems deter looting of archaeological sites.  But do they work in practice?  This story from Israel suggests otherwise.  Instead, they may in fact only overwhelm everyone with red tape and encourage cheating by the unscrupulous. Isn't it much better to get at the problem with a system akin to the UK's Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme?  Important sites should be protected by law, but it should also be okay to prospect on private property with permission as long as items that are found are properly recorded.


Paul Barford said...

In what way would a PAS system replace the current Israeli antiquity law and why? Would it be available for use to record the finds of Palestinian diggers? The Israeli register is to regulate the TRADE, the PAS is nothing to do with the antiquities trade.

But then is not the proposal of a register in the White Paper of the Committee for Cultural Policy (“White Paper: A Proposal to Reform U.S. Law and Policy Relating to the International Antiquities Trade", 2013)? Do you reject Pearlstein's proposal and why?

Cultural Property Observer said...

I think its better to address issues at the source, which is why PAS should be considered. Bill Pearlstein's paper focuses on the US response, so I don't get your point.

Now will you respond to my query about the Iraqi Jewish Archive in the prior post?

Anonymous said...

You have to understand that Mr. Barford's hatred for the PAS is due in part because it's so successful, thus relegating the archaeological community to a lesser and well deserved status.

Paul Barford said...

Some recent Iraqi Jewish archive posts:

Sunday, 10 November 2013, 'Cultural Imperialism Washington-Style: "Keep the Iraqi Jews’ Legacy Safe — in America",

Saturday, 9 November 2013, 'Conserving the History of Iraq's Jews',

Thursday, 15 August 2013, 'Iraqi Jewish Archives to be housed in the Iraqi National Library and Archives',

Thursday, 1 August 2013, 'More lack of transparency in the USA: In the Public Interest?',

Monday, 29 July 2013, 'USA Hands Back Illegal 'War-trophy' ',

Saturday, 27 July 2013, 'Iraq, US reach deal on stolen artefacts: official',

As for the metal detectorist's off-topic comment (because we are talking specifically about Israel not England), The problem with the PAS is nothing to do with any "hatred", it is the tendency for those with special interests (coin dealers' lobbying, artefact/relic hunting) to misconstrue its purpose as here.

I'll explain in more detail here:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Thank you, but not sure you are getting to the point on the Iraqi Jewish archive-- much of the material is not documents from the Iraqi state "about Jews," but rather documents from Iraqi Jews, including religious books and documents of a personal nature. Doesn't that make a difference?