Monday, January 12, 2015

Archaeological Lobby Goes for the Gold?

It may or may not be a coincidence, but just as the archaeological lobby has geared up to press for legislation that would give the State Department unlimited authority to fund archaeological groups, a number of consultancies and/or research entities have apparently sprung up that have principals associated with that lobby.

These include: Red Arch with principals with current and/or past associations with the AIA, Lawyer's Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation and Saving Antiquities for Everyone; Heritas with principals with current and/or past associations with the AIA, Lawyer's Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation and Antiquities Coalition; and the Past for Sale Project with a researcher associated with Saving Antiquities for Everyone.

The bill in question (HR 5703) died at the end of the last legislative session, but presumably will be reintroduced in some form.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with lobbying for this or other cultural heritage legislation.  And there is also nothing wrong with making money from one's passion through "consulting" or "research." However, there needs to be far more transparency about the intersection between lobbying and consulting or researching here, particularly given the archaeological lobby's full throttled attacks on any "lobbying" by "commercial interests" concerned about the State Department's imposition of import restrictions on cultural goods.  After all, some big money-- like the $600,000 contract the State Department awarded to ASOR to assess Syrian cultural sites--is already out there for the taking by the State Department's allies against antiquities collecting.

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

John Howland asked me to post this:

Mr Tompa...BEWARE!
It starts like this and costs taxpayers...millions. You might even call it 'Al Capone Archaeology'. It works like this:-
Step 1. Blame groups (usually detectorists, or 4x4 enthusiasts) as being a 'threat' to the heritage. Lobby politicians hard.
Step 2. Enact laws that ALL groundwork SHALL NOT be carried out unless archaeological excavations are completed. Expenses for this work is 'absorbed' by the developer. Archaeologists worm their way as advisors to the lawmakers!
Step 3. Archaeologists then form themselves into 'for-profit excavation companies' offering a range of pre and post-excavation work to developers, that developer's MUST use to the satisfaction of........archaeologists!
Imagine if a cartel of US motor manufacturers lobbied that only Fords, Chryslers, et al, could be used by police and emergency services and all purchases were overseen by, the motor manufacturing cartel! There would quite rightly, be uproar.
Warm wishes
John Howland