Monday, December 15, 2014

Caveat Emptor

The dramatic unraveling of the claim that $36 million in antiquities were looted under the authority of the terrorists of ISIS from one area in Syria alone should raise serious questions for mainstream media and government officials.  We know that archaeologists are smart, careful people, engaged in important scholarship and deeply caring about the exposure and investigation of history and culture.  We also know that most haven't the faintest idea of what goes on in the antiquities market -- indeed many choose a path of willful blindness, turning their eyes away from the trade in and collection of cultural material, whether licit or not.  Some of this may be motivated by the ideological view that all culture belongs to the states where it is found, and that collecting, even legitimate collecting, is nothing short of theft.  Many, we know, willfully and blindly accept the views of countries (many of which are dictatorships) that declare anything old state property, or, worse, forget their own commitment to science by seizing on and promoting truly ridiculous claims about looting and vastly inflated values of the traffic in stolen material, no matter what evidence may exist to the contrary. Caveat emptor. 


Cultural Property Observer said...

Arthur Houghton asked me to post this:

"Peter that's a truly incisive and excellent analysis. It reflects my views and experience exactly.

Warm regards,


John H said...

We have absolute proof that some who describe themselves as 'archaeologists' are attracted to totalitarianism.

“Countries committed to the notions of sovereignty saying 'no' to aggression with commitment is by its nature divisive."

A fine sentiment indeed, had this not been written by anyone other than the arch-fool, and David Gill caddy, Paul Barford, the undistinguished and self-appointed ‘archaeologist’ of debatable provenance.

It must be remembered that Barford hot-footed it to communist Poland (from England) for an employment hand-out by one of modern history's vilest regimes.

As usual, he conveniently forgets communism’s notion of Poland’s 'sovereignty,'and his support for the Kremlin's suppression of Polish freedom. Neither must he be allowed to forget this fact.

Warm regards

John Howland