Sunday, 1 February 2015

Buyer, Check those Docs: Documentation Verification Fail = Kushan Buddha Problems

Chasing Aphrodite has a post ('The Kushan Buddhas: Nancy Wiener, Douglas Latchford and New Questions about Ancient Buddhas' 1st Feb 2015) about a statue that Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum did due diligence on before purchase and refused by buy - but then somebody else did. it ranges in subject matter from two British ex-pats in SE Asia, one in Hong Kong and another in Bangkok, a Manhattan gallery with a cagey doorkeeper, a looted archaeological site in India to questionable collecting histories. Another good read from Jason Felch, but with many questions still unanswered. I am convinced that truth will out in the end.

"Don’t dismiss metal detecting"

" Don’t dismiss metal detecting" writes John C Barbour, Monagri Cyprus, and of course the bloke trots out the same damaging stuff-the-PAS-don't-tell-anyone:
In the UK in recent years, a major source of newly-found material and sites has been by the chance finds of dedicated people using metal-detectors. The UK reward system ‘Treasure Trove’, means that virtually all significant finds are declared, and not sold off on the black market. 
He then of course suggests that metal detecting in Cyprus should be allowed "everywhere excluding say declared ancient monuments and their surroundings".

W-h-y    a-r-e    t-h-e   P-A-S    NOT    d-e-a-l-i-n-g    w-i-t-h    d-a-m-a-g-i-n-g   m-i-s-c-o-n-c-e-p-i-o-n-s    c-a-u-s-e-d   b-y    t-h-e-i-r    o-w-n    i-n-a-b-i-l-i-t-y   t-o    d-o  t-he-i-r   o-u-t-r-e-a-c-h P-R-O-P-E-R-L-Y-? 

Since they are unlikely to do it, my reply was:
@ mr Barbour, How can they be "chance" finds if artefact hunters with metal detectors are largely targeting known "productive" sites? The main thing these UK hobbyists are "dedicated' to is getting more archaeological artefacts out of those productive sites to add to their personal collections.

The "UK  reward system" [sic]  is not called "Treasure Trove". The 1986 UK Treasure Act unfortunately does NOT mean that "virtually all archaeologically significant finds" are reported and many unreported finds are indeed disappearing into private collections and being sold on the antiquities market.

John C Barbour has a rather distorted and over-idealistic picture of what is happening in the UK under those "policies" he wants to see elsewhere. If they are so great, why has no other nation in the world adopted them?
Is there anything difficult to understand here?Why is it that when talking about "metal detecting" many people seem to just switch off their critical facilities and see only what they want to see?

Fortunately not everyone is as unclued up as Mr Barbour, a "
Metal detecting is not illegal because it locates archaeological material - it is illegal because the metal detector operators dig up the artefacts (and keep them). The act of simply digging up the artefacts without proper recording or care for archaeological and geological contexts destroys all sorts of information. This information includes:
- Any indication of time-frame in which the artefact was deposited.
- Any indication of environmental conditions at the time of deposition.
- Any indication of relationship to other artefacts found in the same area, or same context.
- Any indication of preparation of the terrain for depositing the item by whoever put it there.
This is why metal detector activities present a serious problem for recording the past. Some are ethical, but most simply bulldoze into the archaeology with no accountability, and no peer-review of their activities.


Russia: "Ukraine is Plundering its Own Museums On the Way to Europe"

Tessa Davis is researching the 'laundering of looted antiquities into legitimate artworks in the Glasgow Trafficking Culture project. She has just publicised without comment an interesting piece ‏ on the 'Global Research' website. this is Montreal-based and claims to be a centre for research on Globalisation. The piece is called 'Ukraine is Plundering its Own Museums On the Way to Europe ' and is a pretty blatant piece of pro-Putin expansionism, anti-Ukrainian (and anti-EU) propaganda. It was posted on Jan 29th, but had actually come from the so-called 'Oriental Review,' - based in Moscow. I have no doubt that art and antiquities are changing hands and being smuggled in the current crisis, and we should be discussing it. I think however the tone of this text is an inappropriate vehicle for the purpose, and should be treated with the utmost caution. 

"Nazi war Digger": Statement

It is really quite surprising to learn that the "Nazi War Diggers" saga continues. For those who've not been following teh story from early last year, I was one of a number of people who opposed the airing by Fox Network ('National Geographic Channel') of a programme called "Nazi War Diggers" (my first post on the subject was here: British "Nazi War Diggers" Filmed PACHI Wednesday, 26 March 2014). According to disturbing pre-release material, this programme would feature the filmed exhumation by amateurs of bodies from the Kurland-Kessel as well as (apparently) Poland.  A number of archaeologists were instrumental in raising public awareness about the need for this sort of thing to be approached differently, and there was a public outcry, and due to the widespread outrage the production company's (Clearstory) bungled marketing evoked, the projected programme was suspended by Fox Network indefinitely on 1st April 2014.
Here is an 'Archaeosoup' video from 31st March 2014 where Andy Brockman and Marc Barkman-Astles are explaining (part of) the problem and explaining the difference between what can only be described as hoiking and proper archaeological practice and touching on the perceived breaches of responsible media practices.

Nazi War Diggers - What Should Nat Geo Learn? by Archaeosoup Productions

Since then, most of us have moved on, Sam Hardy and I are writing about other things, Archaeosoup has moved on to other topics. National Geographic on the other hand are not known to have instituted any measures (as proposed in the Archaeosoup video) to prevent this happening again, neither has the Portable Antiquities Scheme issued any guidelines to its partners related to this episode. One of the erstwhile "presenters"  who was filmed amateurishly digging the War graves and featured in the trailer to the projected programme however seems to have suffered some kind of a breakdown as a result of their activities being questioned and apparently now still harbours a grudge and determined to add his own little bit to the libellous anti-Barford mythology that functions in artefact hunting circles.

On his blog on Monday, 19 January 2015, Kentish detectorist Kris Rodgers made a couple of false allegations about me on his blog [I am not linking to that post for legal reasons]. Yesterday (31st Jan 2015) he published another post in which he repeats one of those allegations [and again I am not linking to it]. He writes:
The legal team issue is in response to an ongoing investigation concerning death threats sent to me, and misinformation sold to the press.  These, unfortunately are not false allegations, and again this is all I can say on the matter.  However, thanks to I.P logs, and source code I am confident Paul has a lot to answer for, but we’ll let that one unfold in the future. 
Mr Rodgers in all certainty has nothing of the kind. Whether or not this 'investigation' which he says is still 'ongoing' (since 27th March 2014 see: "Death Wishes from Archaeologists?") is a figment of his imagination or not, his "confidence" that he has I.P logs, and source code" which implicate me in any way with "death threats" on him certainly is. The man is at best mistaken.

Likewise I have never in my life ever sold any information about portable antiquities to any newspaper - all interviews I have done are done pro bono and absolutely without any kind of fee or honorarium. Mr Rodgers is mistaken at best if he thinks he has any "I.P logs, and source code" which link me in any way to sales of information (or "misinformation") to any newspaper. In any case I seriously doubt that any newspaper would pay for 'inside information' (even if I had it) on his cancelled TV programme - he is hardly Kim Kardashian. I think at best the metal detectorist is mistaken about his own importance. 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Blood Antiquities, Now Blood Manuscripts?

"Get a brain.." who?
Over on the blogs and forums of those involved in the no-questions asked trade in dugup antiquities, the brown-skinned folk of the antiquities source countries are depicted as ignorant savages who associate their countries' heritage with an oppressive regime and thus will willingly destroy it or flog it off cheap to middlemen supplying foreign markets here for example, the same idea here and the notion is also a notorious leitmotif running through the IAPN/PNG paid lobbyist's blog. These spokesmen for the milieu see looting as the inevitable result of a country ruled in a manner that is recognizably un-American (and so therefore in their views by definition bad and wrong). If only, they argue, the laws protecting the heritage in those countries were relaxed, looting (done by the general populace in revenge for not being run by America) would magically stop. This is really an offensive racist view of America's neo-colonialist and xenophobically-blinkered right with which (it would seem from what they and their spokesmen write and how), many collectors and dealers of dugup antiquities align themselves.

Meanwhile the situation is far more nuanced. The brown-skinned folk these people deride by their simplistic cardboard-cutout picture of the outside world do not fit the stereotypes these commentators wish to impose. We may think of the people in Syria who are doing their best to oppose the destruction of sites of cultural importance over there, some of them losing their lives as a result (remember Samira Saleh al-Naimi for example). In Iraq just now we are learning of others (Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub, 'ISIS burning books at Iraq libraries and loading artifacts onto refrigerated trucks at night, residents say', Associated Press January 31, 2015) who cannot be fitted into the insulting stereotype which some antiquities dealers and their spokesmen attempt to propagate
Since the Islamic State group seized a third of Iraq and neighbouring Syria, they have sought to purge society of everything that doesn’t conform to their violent interpretation of Islam. They already have destroyed many archaeological relics, deeming them pagan, and even Islamic sites considered idolatrous. Increasingly books are in the firing line. Mosul, the biggest city in the Islamic State group’s self-declared caliphate, boasts a relatively educated, diverse population that seeks to preserve its heritage sites and libraries. In the chaos that followed the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein, residents near the Central Library hid some of its centuries-old manuscripts in their own homes to prevent their theft or destruction by looters. But this time, the Islamic State group has made the penalty for such actions death.
But foreign collectors can help preserve the past too, and put a little money in the coffers of the groups  which do fit their one-sided stereotypes of the "Other". A University of Mosul history professor (who spoke on condition he not be named because of his fear of the Islamic State group), said that locals reported that locals who live near these libraries observed that the older books from historical libraries were removed during the night in refrigerated trucks with Syria-registered license plates.
The fate of these old materials is still unknown, though the professor suggested some could be sold on the black market. 

More on Spanish Claims of Militant Funding through Antiquities Sales

More information is emerging from the Spanish portion of Operation Aureus which supports the rather vague claim made earlier that it might be connected with funding terrorism (Glen James, 'Gang of 'antique smugglers who sold looted treasures to fund ISIS busted in Spain' , Daily Mirror, 31 January 2015).
A gang of alleged antique smugglers have been arrested after being suspected of selling stolen Egyptian relics to fund Islamic State terrorists. Spanish police claim the network were operating out of mosques in Barcelona after they raided a shipment which they believe originated in Egypt. They added that the gang had gone to great lengths to try and hide what they were smuggling - which included human figurines, animal figurines and small bronze statues worth several hundred thousand euros. [...] Officials from the Spanish civil guard who carried out the operation said they believed money raised was going directly to fund jihadists. Four Egyptian men and one Spanish man were arrested in the city as a result of the police operation that also led to the seizure of 36 pieces of artwork in Valencia, which are believed to have originally come from Egypt. Experts from the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid say they suspect the antiquities had been looted from sites around the Egyptian towns of Saqqara and Mit Rahina south of the capital Cairo. They were in a container that came from the northern Egyptian port city of Alexandria and was being shipped to Barcelona. A police spokesman said: "This gang had gone to extreme lengths to avoid discovery. They operated in a network that was centred around mosques and other venues located in downtown areas in the city of Barcelona." They said that the one Spanish man arrested had been a dealer in antiquities who appeared to be the gang's local contact and who was supposed to sell the items on the black market. Those arrested face charges of smuggling cultural goods, money laundering, and membership of an international criminal organisation.
Now, note what would have happened if that (Barcelona?) dealer had been asked by investigating journalists about the looting of antiquities in Egypt and the question of antiquities sales financing militantism. He'd join the chorus of course of European and North American dealers chanting the litany of 'we don't see an increase in the amount of such stuff coming onto the market - honest'. This is what all the rest of the dealers are telling journalists. It is what they want their customers sincerely to believe. Yet it is being alleged that this particular dealer had a container containing a load of them waiting for him in one of Spain's largest ports. This dealer is reported to have been cynically dealing with four Egyptian gang members (allegedly working out of the mosques). What is the truth behind these allegations? Will the dealer concerned issue a press statement?  Will he co-operate with authorities and say who'd been buying stuff from him? Anyhow, alerted to the issue and its potential significance:
Spanish police also confirmed that they were stepping up monitoring ports, airports and border control points following fears that there would be an increase in similar types of smuggling in particular with regards to shipments from the Middle East where conflicts are being fought.

Whom Does US Mummy-Mask-Trashing Serve?

If anyone is in any doubt about why some people in the US see mummy-mask trashing as a good thing, take a look at this video, the pace is slow but there are some real verbal gems towards the end. Best approached I think with a good bottle of red:
Since the unbelieving lost have been mind controlled into not believing the Gospel
and subsequently not abiding in it, Edifying Others helps reveal the layers of mind
control that keeps lost sinners in their stony heart condition of Mystery Babylon 

mind control (Posted on You Tube by Edifying Others)
And watch out for that masked masonic mind control.

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