Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Reasons for the "Need" to Acquire an Object Without Inhibition

I had a brief twittersation with a collector a few hours ago and stumbled across this in the 'unposted texts' section of my blog's dashboard and decided to post it after all, as it may be of interest.

Shirley M. Mueller, author of “The Neuropsychology of the Collector” (in  Steven Satchell (ed.), Collectible Investments for the High Net Worth Investor. Editor Academic Press, 2009) has contributed a short text to Physician's Money Digest (May 05, 2016) on ' This goes some way to explaining perhaps why it seems collectors are unable to profit from our attempts at reasoning and explanation of the issues concerning the no-questions-asked market. This is not an issue of rationality:
The modulator, the prefrontal cortex or executive brain, is no longer able to navigate between conflicting primitive emotions. It cannot draw a suitable conclusion. This is either because the prefrontal cortex itself is damaged or the drive to collect is so strong that it overpowers the expected function of the prefrontal cortex. Then, poor collecting decisions are made, and a whole new set of emotions erupt. These new feelings may or may not be on the part of the collector because his deficits may not allow him to understand his situation. [...] The need to acquire an object with little if any inhibition is considered by Donald W. Black, MD, and his colleagues from the University of Iowa to be an impulse control disorder. It is classified as one of the symptoms of a broader psychiatric abnormality, obsessive compulsive disorder. Compulsive shoppers fit in this category. Collectors who are unable to resist buying objects they covet seem also to be of the same variety
So there you have it, collecting can be considered a mental disorder.  In fact most people do not collect, or if they do it's something innocuous and obvious like state quarters. Beyond that, it is an obsession.

Hat tip for this one: Donna Yates spotted it

Looting of antiquities is as much a problem in US as it is overseas

Looting of antiquities is as much a problem in some areas of the US as it is overseas (Jim Mimiaga, 'Artifact looting, vandalism surge in southeastern Utah:Public, private partnership aims to foil thieves' The Journal Wednesday, May 18, 2016).
The Bureau of Land Management and Friends of Cedar Mesa, a nonprofit, formed an unusual public-private partnership this month to prosecute looters and vandals of southeastern Utah’s Native American treasures. Under the agreement, Friends of Cedar Mesa will offer a standing reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to convictions in cases in San Juan County, Utah.  “Most people are unaware of the alarming and ongoing problem of looting and vandalism, including disturbing human remains, in the greater Cedar Mesa area,” said Josh Ewing, executive director of the conservation-minded Friends of Cedar Mesa. “Violators are hard to catch, so we partnered with the BLM to create a fund that hopefully encourages the public to report illegal activity.” '...] “The American public is betrayed by these crimes,” Eaton said. “When visiting our public lands, report suspicious activity. Protecting our archaeological resources is so important because it’s the heritage of all Americans.” 
In Utah, violations of the laws include theft or intentional damage of cliff dwellings, shrines, pottery, stone tools, rock-art panels, burials and historic structures. In the past five years, it is reported that the BLM has reported a surge of disturbing archaeological crimes in this region.
Between October 2011 and April 2016, the BLM’s field office in Monticello said it investigated 25 cases of looting, vandalism and disturbance of human remains in San Juan County. In 2012, a historic Navajo hogan was torn down by campers.In 2013, a burial site in Butler Wash was desecrated by looters.In 2014, a 2,000-year-old pictograph site in Grand Gulch was vandalized.In 2015, three remote sites on Cedar Mesa were dug up by pot hunters, and a burial alcove was dug up in Beef Basin. A prehistoric wall was pulled down at Monarch Cave on Comb Ridge and, in the same area, a wall at Double Stack ruin was knocked down.Vandalism has continued in the past four months, the BLM said. In January, a petroglyph was partially removed from a wall with a rock saw and chisel near Bluff, badly marring the ancient rock art. In March, campers on Muley Point built a fire ring out of building blocks from a 2,000- to 3,000-year-old site, and vandals scratched their names in a rock-art cave. In April, ATV riders drove through archaeological sites in the Lower Fish Creek Wilderness Study Area. Looting and vandalism is also a concern on Canyons of the Ancient National Monument in Southwest Colorado, says monument manager Marietta Eaton. A recent incident is under investigation.
I am sure the coin dealers will say it is the "fault" or archaeologists who are failing to pay potential looters a living wage to keep them on the straight and narrow.

How to Spot a Looter in Utah

In Utah citizens can win a reward for reporting illegal artefact hunting (some of us do it for free). Here's how to spot one (Jim Mimiaga, 'Artifact looting, vandalism surge in southeastern Utah:Public, private partnership aims to foil thieves' Durango Herald, The Journal Wednesday, May 18, 2016):

Collectors' Colonialist and Supremacist Ideology

Cultural Property Obfuscator and Issue Dodger, Peter Tompa attorney at the Washington legal firm Bailey and Ehrenberg said on his little-read blog... " I wasn't aware Greeks were "brown skinned folks" as Barford calls them" and then with a singular lack of logic calls me a "Communist" and "Racist" for questioning IAPN and PNG recommendations. I guess he's not done much travelling and has no real idea of the effects of the Mediterranean sun on most people's skin, and why many people go south to lie on the beaches there. It is not to buy coins.

The Greek National Football Team

Mr Tompa would presumably side with the view that the creators of European civilization cannot have been brown skinned, but very, very white, like this White Supremacist website.

The genetics according to one source

My point is that it is not a little racist of the IAPN and PNG to suggest in their statement to the CPAC that in the case of the artefact hunters of the United Kingdom and the United States, it would be enough to be nice to them, reason with and educate them and ask them not to, but to deal with the people from source countries, they insist that these folk will have to be "watched over" and paid off not to loot. The racism is not mine but that of collectors and dealers of the IAPN and PNG, compounded by their hateful and dismissive supremacist and colonialist attitudes towards the natives.

it is the time for all right thinking people to stand up to the hateful ideologies that lie behind the current activities of the IAPN and PNG. Culture can be used to unite but the IAPN and PNG are persisting in using it to sow division and hatred and attempting to use it as a tool of colonial domination - I bet they support that Trump fellow.

"Finds Frenzy", Money to be Made

Somerset pig
BBC 'Roman lead pig unearthed on Somerset farm in 'find frenzy'...' 27 May 2016
An ingot of Roman lead weighing six stone (38kg) has been unearthed on a farm in Somerset. Jason Baker discovered the "very rare" find - known as a pig - on an organised rally near Wells at the weekend [...] Mr Baker said therchanged my life," he said. "There's been one sold - a smaller one - for £36,000 and I've heard a few reports of [some fetching] £250,000."
e had been a "frenzy of finds" so when his detector sounded he "knew it was something good". The 31-year-old, from Plymouth, has only been metal detecting for 18 months and had signed up for the weekly event, organised by the Southern Detectorists Club. "Normally I find just a couple of Roman coins and that's normally a good day, so to find something like this has just
Jus' intresteid in th' 'istry you understand. Not th' munny. There is more:
Sean McDonald, from the club, said the last Roman pig found was in the 18th century.
"It is such a rare find it's hard to put a price on it. A minimum would be £60,000 but it could go over that fivefold," he said. "It doesn't come under the Treasure Act [...]  so Jason doesn't have to split it 50:50 with the farmer. "But he is, because he is such a nice bloke."
No, the object belongs to the landowner on whose property Mr "Nice Bloke" was a guest. The landowner has every right to take the artefact and throw the lot of these Entitlement-mistaken clowns off his land (I know I would) with a flea in their thick ears.

Greedy Collectors and their Cultural Victims

A thing of beauty, or something else?
With regard to the fuss the US is kicking up about a coming sale of Native American artefacts in France, and given their own attitudes to appropriating as 'global heritage' the artefacts of other communities, it would be interesting to hear a US collector's reaction to what Bambi Kraus, president of the National Association for Tribal Historic Preservation Officers in Washington, a Tlinget Indian from south-east Alaska has to say (Paris auction house turns deaf ear to Native American appeals PRI's The World May 27, 2016).
The sale of these important cultural objects goes against our entire way of life, and way of thinking about being native and today's global world view. They are not just art pieces rather they are cultural objects.
So, a bit like a Greek temple antefix or Egyptian mummy case. She goes on:
They were made for a specific culture and were not to be shared with the outside world. “Many were stolen from Native communities. Many were sold out of duress because there was a lot of fighting over resources when Western expansion was coming up against Native people in the world. I know from my own personal history as a that they were being forced to change their way of life and they were being starved to death, and there was very little they could actually do to preserve their culture," she says. 
Discussion then turns to a specific item, an  Acoma Pueblo ceremonial shield Ms Kraus [as an aside: some lady says the shield was stolen from her home, but provides only an affidavit, not police report]:
It was important to them as a ceremonial piece, and was for their community only. It was made for their use and it should have no value outside of that community. And that's one of the questions that I have been trying to answer, what makes these items valuable?
So what does make these items worth stealing from the communities? I think the answer is pretty obvious:
So, if that is just rawhide and paint, why is that so valuable to someone who wants to collect it for its beauty rather than its value to that community?
Collectors' greed. Collectors' greed and desire to posess this as a trophy as a symbol of their domination of that community of 'Others' is what lies behind communities losing historical items which form the basis of their culture and identity. It is the same with rawhide shields as Greek pots, Egyptian tomb figurines, mummy beads, Roman coins and a host of other collectables. It would be interesting to hear an articulate collector's view, though hopefully one who'd go deeper than adopting a trite self-justificatory American Exceptionalist position. But, I suggest none of us need hold our breath waiting.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Taunton "Northwest Frontier" Wreath

The controversial artefact

When I discussed in an earlier blog post the Mail story of the wreath which  a Somerset pensioner claims he was 'left by his grandfather who'd been travelling in the Northwest Frontier area' I was more interested in the provenance and the odd photo of the cardboard box than the object itself. I was prompted to look again the next day:
Dorothy King ‏@DorothyKing 10 godz.10 godzin temu
Looks modern to me ...
Retweet Quellenforschung du jour: The Daily Mail on a Hellenistic Wreath
Now I look with the benefit of David Meadows' comments I think he has made the case that there is a good chance this object is a modern pastiche and should be being sold as such in the absence of any firm supporting evidence that it is not.

By the way there seems to be a lack of clarity about what the original article claimed might have been the origin of the piece - a story now looking even more to be in tatters:
The current owner's grandfather was a great collector who was fascinated by archaeology and the ancient world. Although his family do not know how he acquired it, it is likely he bought it sometime in the 1940s when he travelled extensively. The man said: 'I knew my grandfather travelled extensively in the 1940s and 50s and he spent time in the north west frontier area, where Alexander the Great was, so it's possible he got it while he was there.
Most commentators took this to mean the region 'Macedonia' on the northwest side of modern Greece. Is this in fact what Grandson Anonymous was implying? The Northwest Frontier is also the name of a former province, part of the Pashtun region of British India and now part of Pakistan  (see here too). Grandson Anonymous could have been fantasising on the basis of Kipling's novella 'The man Who Would be King' (or more likely the 1975 John Huston film) in which something vaguely like this wreath (a crown) appears handed down from "Iskander" (Alexander).

The wreath could be a piece of modern costume jewellery, or have been made to deceive collectors (and over-enthusiastic Mail-reading auctioneers). What else is Duke's selling from this collection similarly authenticated by appraiser Guy Schwinge?

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