Friday, July 10, 2015

Destroying Undocumented Artifacts: What Were They Thinking?

Kate FitzGibbon asks in reaction to a series of  revealing "tweets" from some well-known archaeologists and academics associated with the archaeological lobby which appear to either support the idea of destroying undocumented artifacts in order to keep them off the market, support the idea with some qualifications, think its for the source country to decide, or think it should not be discussed, not because it's wrong, but because it undercuts their anti-looting argument.

Of course, collectors like Kyri don't think that way.   For them, "all antiquities 'merit saving' with or without context."  CPO heartily agrees.


Dave Welsh said...

It would be a good thing for the "anti-looting archaeologists" to go out in the field and practice some genuine archaeology, instead of sitting behind desks in air conditioned offices with nothing better to do than fulminate about "looting," and blame it on collectors.

Their "collectors are the real looters" mantra is based on an unproven and unproveable hypothesis, which no one in the trade believes. This is not science, but applied ideology.

It would be an even better thing for these archaeologists to discard the notion that preponderance of opinion validates a hypothesis. The only thing that really validates a hypothesis is proof in a scientific manner that can be scrutinized, tested and validated before being accepted.

John H said...

Hi Peter:

Call me an old cynic, but if the destruction of undocumented artefacts is keenly supported by certain people in the archaeo-blogosphere, one has to ask 'why.'

Such destruction - like the crushing of ivory - only serves to hike up the value of existing artefacts (and ivory) which if one is collecting either as a hedge against inflation (and why not).

However, the opposite is true if artefacts (and ivory) flood the market, and one sees the value of one's collection going down the Swannee.

Is it significant that it's archaeologists and their caddies who are whining the most, whereas there's only a whimper from genuine collectors.

Best wishes

John Howland