Thursday, August 28, 2014
Archaeology and Dictatorship
As wild claims continue to be made about alleged connections between Western collectors and Middle Eastern terrorists, there has been far too little academic interest about the far more direct and verifiable links between dictatorships and archaeologists. Certainly, prominent American archaeologists acted as apologists for Saddam Hussein's Iraq, and more recently they also have supported a proposed import ban on cultural goods on behalf of Egypt's generals. Hopefully, there will be some much needed interest in this important topic. After all, this connection between retentavist dictatorial regimes and the archaeological lobby has led not only to restrictions on the ability of ordinary Americans to gain access to common historical artifacts, but has also skewed our view of history as these regimes select what parts of the archaeological record to highlight or even erase to suit their nationalistic purposes.
Posted by Cultural Property Observer at 4:33 PM
Labels: Archaeological Organizations, Dictators, Egypt, Egyptian MOU, Iraq, Saddam
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Sensationalists, such as a certain gentleman (as opposed to 'A Gentleman') resident in Eastern Europe are not only like death and taxes in that they'll always be with us, but from their rabid rantings and ravings anyone with half-an-ounce of the grey matter can easily spot them for they are. That's a bonus for the collecting community.
However, Mr Tompa, I feel the lack of academic interest in the link between archaeologists and dictatorial regimes to which you highlight, is hardly surprising, if not inevitable.
What itinerant Egyptologist for example, is likely to publicly berate Egypt's military regime then hope the military will grant him/her an excavation permit?
Rather, perhaps, it behoves collectors of all kinds to study in detail those antagonists who've 'done the dirty.' The results I'm sure will be revealing.
Oops...I'm getting as grammatically coarse as PACHI...please drop in a 'what'... to read:- "...easily spot them for what they are."
Here, Mr Tompa, is a superb example of non-nonsensical, anti-US humbug that appeared today on the PACHI blog:-
"...is there actually any need for all the horror stories to be factual? For political ends, made-up and misunderstood information - if believed - is as effective a political tool as the truth. That goes for US cultural politics as much as for anything else."
All rather similar one might think to the threadbare propagandist motivation behind the fact-free Artifact Erosion Counter (an archaeo-political tool) of which one Paul Barford, an English archaeologist working in Warsaw, Poland, was the prime architect.
Co-incidentally, it's the very same Paul Barford who penned the (very revealing) paragraph above.
What he writes in his paragraph can easily be applied of course to Paul Barford's own unique jihadist-style of cultural politics along with his rabid anti-collector, anti-US/West/Detectorist ravings,where fiction is always stranger than truth.
Odd views indeed for archaeologist, one might think, and have, we must ask ourselves, excavation reports ever been doctored along the lines...
"For political ends, made-up and misunderstood information - if believed - is as effective a political tool as the truth."
CPO agrees with Mr. Barford that there are some serious questions about the accuracy of these claims as well as their political motivation. CPO also agrees with you that Mr. Barford may dislike US foreign policy almost as much as US collectors and dealers. Over all, he's an intelligent guy, but unable to moderate himself and not above stretching things more than a bit when it suits his own purposes.
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