Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Press Freedom Day Today, butnot if you're the Archaeological Press

Unless of course you ask British archaeologists about artefact hunting... most prefer not to talk about it. Yes, it is your right, but British archaeologists by their silence about "uncomfortable" issues deny you that right.

Once upon a time...

... we used to write archaeology books

Now we write easy dumbdown stuff about Treasure hunting and call it "ourtreach". Pretty pathetic innit?


United States of Apathy

Donna Yates reckons: 'You can help protect Bolivian antiquities and sacred art from trafficking with one comment', and gives instructions for those who can't work it out for themselves which is great. Please let's have some sensible comments, so far only eight people cared enough to write anything at all. That's eight people compared to a nation with a population of 320 million people. That's a whole lot of apathy about the trade in pillaged South American antiquities.

Collecting Coins Seems to Rot the Brain

The Llama on this coin could probably write
 more sense than many US coin fondlers. But
 nobody asked the llama. The question is
whether coineys really have anything to say
I'll be doing a Bolivian MOU renewal 'public comment', not because I think there is any real point, but for the principle. Only eight people have written one so far. That's a pretty pathetic showing, eight measly comments. That's even before we start looking at them... Leaving aside the one written by somebody for whom it would seem English is not his native language, we have the collectors. Always the collectors. There's this lost soul, posting on 28th April 2016, bless him, buy him a metal detector someone:
    How will THIS agreement "limit coin collectors"? What coins are present in Bolivia prior to AD 1523? Maybe Mr Callahan can enlighten us? Here's another commenter that also needs to get out in the fresh air more often, this one is too ashamed to put his own name under this gross numismostupidity:
    I have great interest in the rare archaeological artifacts that hail [sic] from the great cultures that have spawned, and bridged, Western culture; that is, Rome, Greece, and Turkey. I mean in particular such artifacts as pottery, statuary, friezes, jewelry, oil lamps, sarcophagi, amphora, tools, and armor. These have several things in common with each other but the primary similarity is that they are rare, truly rare; often 'one of a kind' items. Those items should be protected, I agree!
    Well that's bollocks for a start. Pottery "rare"? Amphoras? Tools? What on earth is this clown writing about an MOU with BOLIVIA. Bolivia not Boeotia but then we get to the crux of the matter which explains it all:
    But some items of human manufacture are not rare at all. They are the coins. The ancient money. They are the relics of those great cultures that those of us who are dispersed across the globe actually have access to. We can hold them in our hands.
    Yeah, might have know, a coin fondler a deranged anonymous coin fondler. There is more, much more numismo-moronism for those that can stomach it here. Personally I have no patience for their superficial and inappropriate claptrap. (but we cannot miss this: "Has anyone heard of the Venetian Empire, the Bulgarian Empire [?]. Does everyone in the US know that the Byzantine Empire was actually the Roman Empire East?" they have schools there I believe. What they teach there I could not say. Coin collecting trolls like Mr Anonymous Anonymous seem not to have absorbed much of it.)

    Douglas Oles (Comment on DOS-2016-0008-0002) is another lost soul: "As someone who highly values fine museum collections, I respectfully recommend against extending the Advisory Committee and its regulatory initiatives". Eh? Does Mr Oles have the foggiest idea what is being discussed here? One very much doubts it.
    Americans should not be restricted in their ability to buy and study common antiquities like ancient Greek coins or ancient oil lamps. European museums have far more of those objects than they have room to display, and Europeans have easy access to buying such small objects for their personal collections. Small artifacts are a wonderful way to inspire young Americans with knowledge of the ancient past, and the U.S. should refrain from imposing unique restrictions on its own people who wish to acquire them through reputable dealers. People who engage in unlawful excavations or thefts from museums should be punished, but honest U.S. collectors should not be restricted in the secondary market for buying and selling common antiquities (including ancient coins and terracotta oil lamps).
    All those Bolivian-Greek coins and ancient oil lamps, from the Bolivia that is in "Europe". There certainly seem to be gaps in the US education system. Mr Oles, who are you writing to and about what?

    I think this shows the utter pointlessness of trying to discuss anything with collectors of portable antiquities, these buffoons see the word "MOU" and have a pavlovian knee-jerk reaction, out come the cut-and-pasted phrases they've been asked on other occasions by the lobbyists to fax-bomb the Department of State with. The trouble is they did not engage any kind of thought to the process, they did not read what they are protesting about, they probably did not even look on a map to see where Bolivia was (as it would seem they do not know anything about the country or its history). Portable antiquity collecting seemingly rots the brain of many who engage it it - dugup portable antiquities might even be considered a public health hazard.

    Let us see some real comments on the Bolivian "docket", drown out this drivel.

    Targeting the Archaeology: Until There is None Left

    On a metal detecting forum near you, member 'trc007'  wants to know: 'How often do you find hammered?', he means hammered medieval coins which due to their small size and thinness tend to be the touchstone of how well a detectorist can use his machine for artefact hunting. It seems the answer depends on targeting the right archaeological sites. jcmaloney (Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:45 am) says:
    Certain parts of the country they are relatively abundant, within these areas are "hotspots" trade sites, hoard sites, long gone villages, fair sites etc etc. I have a long held theory, based on lots of searches over 10+ years, that there is a hammy in every field. However the hard part is finding it!
    The same sort of answer is given by "JamieB" (Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:22 pm)
    The best sites for hammered will always be fields that had markets on .. It's no surprise to me that the most productive hammered fields always have coin weights, tokens and jettons on them .. Every field will have one or two in but if you get hold of a market field it will be stuffed full of them! In answer to your question I average about 1.5 per hunt

    So first step is to find out where Deserted Medieval Villages and medieval trade emporia were and hoik away there, and fill yer pockets. It's foolproof, well except if you are john Colin (Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:18 pm)
    in all the years I have been detecting and researching the land, the most promising sites that seem to be steeped in history and past activity often turn out to be the most disappointing. I am currently searching the grounds of a manor house that preceded [sic] much earlier settlements
    Some friends of member "clint" (Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:55 pm) have located such a site and is busy selectively and clandestinely emptying it into their pockets:
    Busy sites are the key...friends of a friend have happened upon what appears to be a market site....first go on produced 10+ hammered including some big ones and stacks of georgian coins inc some nice silvers and numerous artifacts! Looks like a virgin site and needless to say is a secret!
    Needless to say. Empty it first then tell the archaeologists, or empty it first and walk away with the loot and tell nobody, recording is voluntary innit. Like here ("targets", Tue May 03, 2016 4:20 am):
    Not much lately don't forget guys have been at it for about 45 years and I hear some places have been cleaned out ...they used to be very common from the Thames but now rare as its been hammered for 45 years ..I use to get a few dozen hammy per dig but little now...nowt now!!
    and every single one of those coins removed from 45 years worth of cleared-out sites has no doubt been reported by responsible detectorists... yes? This is the "benefit" the UK has from metal detecting?

    UPDATE 3rd May 2016 evening
    What a load of cowards the UK's so-called "responsible detectorists" are, craven selfish, covetous cowards. Clicking on the link now gives a "The requested topic does not exist". Would that the problem itself, the problem that anyone pretending to the title of "responsible detectorist (artefact hunter)" should jolly well be discussing (targeting of known sites, depletion of the archaeological record and massive non-reporting) would go away. Sadly, simply refusing to talk about it is not a solution  that anyone but a marmot would think is the way to resolve an issue. The way to resolve an issue is honestly to talk about it - not ignore it. Cowards, cowards, cowards.

    Here's the Google cache, so you can check out I am not making this tuff up. They really are as bad as I say.  Why are no British archaeologists telling you this? Where are they?

    Monday, 2 May 2016

    Send the looted vigango home

    Stephen E. Nash, 'The Right to Own Living Memorials', Sapiens 29th Apr 2016.
    In the early 1980s, American art dealers seeking to grow their businesses “discovered” vigango. They began to sell them as art objects, ignoring their living, protective value to the Mijikenda. Unemployed young Mijikenda and other men in Kenya and Tanzania were hired by art dealers to steal sacred vigango, selling them to middlemen for as little as $7 each. Once vigango reached the art market in Mombasa or Nairobi, they often fetched a price of several hundred dollars. When art dealerships in the United States obtained them, they typically sold for a few thousand dollars each. Today, prices of up to $15,000 for a single kikango are common at auction houses in the United States. Who profits? Not the men who perpetrated the theft or the source community that suffered the loss. Profits accrue up the chain of possession.
    Collectors of looted art are the real looters. They create a market for these pieces of worked wood.

    The 'Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests' are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  These contain the remains of numerous fortified villages, known as kayas, of the Mijikenda people. "The kayas, created as of the 16th century but abandoned by the 1940s, are now regarded as the abodes of ancestors and are revered as sacred sites and, as such, are maintained as by councils of elders. The site is inscribed as bearing unique testimony to a cultural tradition and for its direct link to a living tradition". A living tradition greedy collectors trash.

    Tuesday, 26 April 2016

    Egyptian Statue Bought by Belgian Collector Stolen from Museum Store

    Youm 7 reported on Saturday that an Egyptian antiquities ministry official and three security personnel are to face trial over charges of theft and smuggling of a Middle Kingdom limestone statue from antiquities storerooms at Egypt’s archaeological site of Memphis, and replacing the original there with a replica. The statue of an ancient Egyptian couple was bought by a Belgian collector who failed to determine how the object had entered the market. The collector and dealer from whom he bought it have not been named.

     The statue, alongside other four artifacts, had been unearthed by the U.S. mission in 2011 before they were handed over for the inspector to store them [...], the disappearance of the double statue was revealed after a curator in the British Museum in London told Nagwan Bahaa Fayez, a member of the U.S. mission who was visiting the museum to display photos for the team’s discoveries in 2011, that he saw the statue with a Belgian antiquity collector. The Administrative Prosecution formed a committee to inspect the U.S. mission’s storehouse in Memphis. The committee confirmed the statue had been replaced by a replica. Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigative Unit at the Egyptian Museum has confirmed that the statue has been stolen and smuggled outside Egypt.
    Cairo Post 'Antiquities inspector, 3 guards stand trial over theft of 3,600 year-old statue', Apr. 23, 2016
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