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.