Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Nobody "Doubts", but Nobody has "Proven Anything" either

Daniel Rivero has a pathetically ill-titled article in Fusion ('Meet the lonely online warriors leading the fight against looted art', November 24, 2015) but the ending is worth quoting because blackguard dealers will be putting a different spin on things:
While the researchers I spoke to don’t doubt that looting is going on in ISIS-controlled territories, nobody suggested that there is an uptick in goods from the region flooding the world markets. And no researcher has definitively drawn a link between patternized looting and the funding of the largest terrorist organization in the world. So if looting and selling is going on, as many suspect, it’s happening in an investigative vacuum. Everyone is talking about it, but no one is doing actually actively, anything. Not even one case has been proven", Tsirogiannis, of Trafficking Culture, told me. “Look what I do,” he continued. “I am producing evidence, identifying objects, objects I find are being repatriated, and all this proves that my research is correct, that my thesis is correct. So why on an international level is there still not even one team that works on [ISIS]?” If the international community doesn’t work together either through academia, governments or NGOs to fund researchers like him (but not specifically him, he wanted me to stress), then the hope of identifying and dismantling these organizations across the world is greatly diminished, he said. “Within the last fifteen years we have five lost opportunities for examining how and if antiquities are leaving conflict zones. We lost Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria,” Tsirogiannis warned. “What about Yemen?” I asked him. “Yes, yes. Yemen too, you’re right. Six countries in 15 years,” he said. “Tell me: What does this mean for the future of the world?” he asked. “This is escalating into something bigger.”
poor old Yemen, always getting ignored. By the way Mr Rivero, it's not just "art", this is archaeological evdence being trashed for the buyers to pocket.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

PAS Puff Booklet Available


More PAS propaganda promoting artefact hunting and collection:
7 godz.7 godzin temu
'50 Finds from Cheshire' is now available from the Grosvenor, Weaver Hall, Lion Salt Works and Congleton Museums :)
But the thousands of metal detected and pocketed finds unreported and unrecorded are available nowhere, except here: eBay British Antiquities 2,578 listings today.

When are the PAS going to present the other side of artefact hunting and collecting to its public audience (who pay for it)? Where is the booklet that presents artefact hunting to the British public in the context of the publc concern over "looting" (the same thing of course) in Iraq , Syria and Egypt? Where is the PAS information about the issues surrounding buying antiquities on eBay? (There is one, who knows where to find it and direct members of the public there?)

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Kingscote Illegal Artefact Hunting: Update

The three artefact hunters caught by nightvision cameras at Kingscote, Gloucestershire (Cotswold farmer claims detectorists 'raping land of Roman history' 12 October 2015), have still not been identified and reported to police by any of the UK's 16000 "responsible" (I use the term loosely) artefact hunters. they have simply vanished into thin air, despite relatively clear images of their rather distinctive physiognomy being broadcast on national TV and figured in newspapers. Certainly, there is more than a handful of metal-detecting individuals out there who knows very well who these people are, but "ambassadors for the hobby" that they are, have decided to "keep sztum" and let these men continue to get away with what they are shown as doing on the BBC. UK metal detectorists claim to a man "we are not all nighthawks" ("we all hate nighthawks, they get us a bad reputation") but every single one of themkm who covers up for culture criminals are themselves tactitly accepting the anti-social and criminal mentality as part of British metal detecting. It is time for the really responsible deectorists to speak out, the merely declaratively responsible ones will not. Where are you?

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Trove of Antique Roman Coins Found in Swiss Orchard without a Metal Detector

'' Discovery News

A Swiss fruit-and-vegetable farmer in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau, Switzerland spotted some corroded green coins in a molehill in his orchard in July while inspecting his cherry orchard. He reported the find and after months of discreet excavations, archaeologists were able to document a hoard of 4166 bronze and silver coins (total weight 15 kilos), one of the biggest such treasures ever found in Switzerland. The coins date from the reign of Emperor Aurelian (year 270-275) to that of Maximilian (286-305), with the most recent coins dated to year 294. Because the land had been farmed, and despite all the rubbish collectors try to foist off on you about fertilisers, the coins were in good condition. Because the hoard had not been found by metal detectorists, it could be excavated properly (unlike hords in Britain hoiked out roughly like the Lenborough Hoard) and it was found that "some of the coins, made mainly of bronze but with an unusually high silver content of five percent, were buried in small leather pouches".
How much the coins are worth today is beside the point, Matter said, pointing out that the farmer would not be allowed to keep his treasure. “He will likely get a finders fee,” he said, “but the objects found belong to the public, in accordance with Swiss law.” The Ueken treasure is set to go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau.
So, why does Britain "need" artefact hunters?

Paris's plan to protect cultural treasures from terrorists

There seems to be a general lack of discussion of the French government's notion of providing "artefact asylum" (Jonathan Jones, 'Asylum for artefacts: Paris's plan to protect cultural treasures from terrorists' Guardian 20 November 2015; Ed Adamczyk, 'Hollande proposes that Syrian antiquities be brought to France for safekeeping', UPI Nov. 17th, 2015 ). The original text here.

- "a new European database of stolen cultural property": Why not? But can we amalgamate it effectively with other existing ones? But then, in terms of antiquities, the French seem not to have noticed that everybody has been saying for yonks that a database of objects known to be stolen helps not a jot with freshly-looted objects. We've got one of those (ALR) and it's not working. 

- "a European Monitoring Centre to scrutinise the illicit art trade": Absolutely, the more the merrier, but why just scrutiny? Let us have proper regulation. It has to have teeth.

- "a special fund to preserve and reconstruct imperilled antiquities": (as if we do not have any of those within Europe), but yes, let us make lots of money available for documentation, securing the fragments, repair and where possible,  anastylosis of destroyed monuments like Warsaw after WW2. How to raise it? Somebody suggested on the Guardian comments thread:
"What they should be doing is setting up an international treaty so that national police forces can confiscate looted antiquities from the shysters in Paris, London, New York, etc who have bought them on the black market, in fact there should be hefty fines on them to be used in restoring damaged antiquties".
and why not?

- "a programme to train more archaeologists in Iraq and Syria": and not just archaeologists. But then everybody's doing it - are they trainng them for the same things in the same ways? More co-ordination here needed. But having the personnel is not enough, they need places to work from and in, and resources.

- but "providing asylum for antiquities"? Which antiquities? Those from the market, or are they proposing shipping out the antiquities evacuated from museums in occupied Syria and Iraq now in the shrinking areas held by the regimes of these floundering states? The latter seems to be suggested here:
In an address to the 38th meeting of the UNESCO conference in Paris, Hollande said he would assemble a group of French archaeologists and local authorities to remove antiquities from Syria for safekeeping in France. His plan, he said, would protect artifacts from "fanatics who are attacking the living and the dead, all who have humanity today and tomorrow, and those of yesterday." Officials of the Syrian government say more than 300,000 artifacts have been moved to safe places within the country, including from areas controlled by IS.
How would this be arranged/ executed? Under what legal measures and safeguards? When will the material return, and to whom will it be returned and in what form? What happens if evacuating the stuff is seen by the Syrians as an admission that their whole state will be overrun and they do not want to countenance the possibility of defeat (and if that is the case, why is France going to rescue old stones and pots and not people)?

That is just a few of the points that come to mind. Where is the discussion?

Farmer Brown to speak at the Portable Antiquities Conference?

WHY?Another cogent post on the Heritage Journal which will be PASsed over in total (embarrassed) silence by the supporters of British policies on artefact hunting: 'Farmer Brown to speak at the Portable Antiquities Conference!'

And by the way, now the LavaPAS is being run by the BM's Department of 'Learning, Volunteers and Audiences', why is Farmer Brown not invited to speak at the conference? What kind of body is it that silences and ignores its critics, instead of addressing the issues at hand?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Coin Fondling "Independents": Two examples

Medal of Yavin (from Mint in box).
Ancient coin fondlers and other collectors like to imagine that by accumulating numbers of ancient artefacts ripped from their context and divorced from their findspots by documentation-discarding-dealers and middlemen  they are somehow participating in scholarship. When asked for any kind of textbook setting out a modern methodology of 'heap-of-loose-coins-on-a-table-numismatics' the proponents of this model fall into an embarrassed silence, before erupting in the typically dismissively aggressive response one would expect from this chip-on-the-shoulder milieu when asked for the specifics.

John Hooker (as he reminds us, 'FSA') decides to show us this brand of numismatics in action on the basis of the coins of Tarentum, and warns:
The complexities of mythology cannot be exaggerated, but whenever we have to add political and monetary history to this picture as is quite common in numismatics, it is no small wonder that the subject of numismatics can only be presented, academically, in an introductory fashion. No single work presents a complete picture of this coin, and the issues (including those of other cities) to which it is related. 
He then goes into a show-and-tell of a loose coin in a mode well illustrated here:
The medal of valor was engraved in [sic] a stylized flower that resembled an emblem used by the Galactic Republic of old. At its heart was a stylized a rising sun that symbolized the dawn of a new hope in the wake of the Alliance's victory over the Galactic Empire. [....] This medal was first seen being presented to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo by Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Chewbacca's not being awarded a medal in the film was a source of discontent for many Star Wars fans. While a number of stories now considered part of Star Wars Legends, such as The Day after the Death Star!, confirmed that Chewbacca did receive a medal, Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo  and Chewbacca Adventure is the first canon tale to confirm this.
The reverse is fairly plain, with an inscription helping to understand what it is and where it is from, like most of the coins "studied" by coin fondlers:
Carefully recreated from original archival materials and fully authorized and endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd. Constructed from solid die-cast metal plated with 18-karat gold with a rich matte finish. Suspended from an olive-green ceremonial ribbon like the ones used for military medals of honor. [...] Certificate of Authenticity.
Mr Hooker FSA will no doubt be able to explain the 'difference' between this show-and-tell and his show-and-tell about Apollo Hyakinthios based on Robert Graves' mythology book ("avoid abridgements") and the dolphin riders of Taras with its "looks like" comparanda.
We see, also, that the story of Arion is also conflated with Phalanthos/Taras but I think that mythological "drift" rather than syncretism is the most likely reason. I have also seen the dolphin rider on the Gundestrup cauldron described as Arion, but his identity as Taras is certain. A lot of the confusion about the Gundestrup cauldron is due to a lack of mythological/iconographic knowledge (especially of the Greek). 

More "special knowledge" claimed by the collectors, and the alleged ignorance of everybody else. The rest of us see a picture of somebody riding a big fish which is probably not intended as a dolphin, and that is as far as you can go without unbridled speculation and guesswork.

Mr Hooker FSA makes reference to "John Francisco (an independent scholar and numismatist)" but documents no addresses or personal data "to place his writings in context" as both Mr Hooker FSA and an ANA/ACCG dealer apparently deem is totally necessary behaviour in numismatic circles. We do not hear what it is he is "independent" of, unless it is the necessity of supporting any his 'scholarly' statements with references unless to a single general coin handbook and a Loeb translation of Pausanius. He is also cited as an example of numismatists "taking into consideration the many weight standards under which Greek coins were struck and the connected political/historical implications". What we find under the link he supplies is mostly in this sort of vein:
Okay, good. Let's see if I can come up with something ;) First of all, am I sure that we have all the types of spread fabric staters amongst the five? Emotionally, I am sure, but logically we cannot be sure. We have enough mints that are represented by only one, two or three coins that we should not have total confidence that we have it all. However, with that caveat, I have got a set of theories that I am following until I am either satisfied with them, or until they (individually or collectively) explode!! And you all get to watch! :)  [...]  together they make up a really nice set in the Pythagorean cosmogony given in Hippolytus. Animal (Sybaris' bull), Vegetable (Metapontum's barley ear), Metal (we would say mineral, Kroton's bronze tripod). The force of strife or war, (antipathy, Poseidonia's Poseidon wielding a trident) and the opposite force of peace or love (sympathy, Kaulonia's Apollo purifying himself at the valley of Tempe). Animal, vegetable, mineral, war and peace  [...]  I think that the Pythagoreans had a plan concerning what types for coins they wanted, but I don't think that that plan survived unscathed and was implemented completely. Laos may be an abberation, it may mess the whole Pythagorean "message" up, but it couldn't do that if it wasn't incuse. It is like a little guy giving the great Pythagorean system, the finger. "Yes, there are great gods, but there are little gods too and we're going to support the little guy." 
and here we see the coiney doing the equivalent with his mumbo-jumbo surmises.  You can make your mind up whether the form or content consist of any form of scholareship known this side of the planet Tatouinne.

I think that, should coineys insist on employing their specious argument that regulating the no-questions-asked market which masks the flow of freshly-surfaced illicit antiquities would in some way hinder their own brand of 'independent coin-in-hand scholarship', it first behoves them to show that  'heap-of-loose-coins-on-a-table-numismatics'actually merits the use of the term scholaship. A discipline has - by definition a body of methodology that separates it from uncontrolled inventive imagination and speculation. Let us see a modern textbook (preferably textbooks) setting out the basis for considering fondling of loose coins (isolated from their contexts of deposition and discovery) any kind of an academic discipline, independent or not (cue: more personal attacks on the questioner, but no proper reply).

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.