Thursday, 25 August 2016

Battlefield Recovery: Rise of the Nazi-Grave Robbers


The legacy of the televised TV exploits of three British metal detectorists continues to damage: Thomas Rogers, 'Rise of the Nazi-Grave Robbers' Bloomberg Business Week August 23, 2016
Inspired by shows like Battlefield Recovery, profiteers are digging up World War II grave sites in search of memorabilia. Preservationists want to stop them.

hat tip Andy Brockman

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Well, Somebody takes my point. A Pity the British Museum Can't Understand


With regard to the British Museum conference which poses the question "Can Detectorists Be Archaeologist [sic]?", I repeat the question in the context of my own twitter feed on antiquities collecting and the commerce in artefacts:
Paul Barford @PortantIssues 25.08
"Can artefact hunters be archaeologists"? upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/comm… PAS, Tell us all about it
vj @ poetryinstone @poetryinstone 25.08 @PortantIssues
destroying context and reducing sacred art to showcase curios !! disgrace not only to the profession but to humanity
The issue is between those who in the past see only loose "things" to display and admire and those whose concern it is to preserve things in their contexts. The British Museum used to do real archaeology (Sutton Hoo for example), now it seems from official communiques that it does not even really know what the word means. The British Museum becomes a brutish museum.


Vignette: Artefact hunters in their natural environment; can they be archaeologists?

The Big Business Of Looted Antiquities


The trade in looted antiquities is big business – and some fear it’s growing due to instability in the Middle East and North Africa. While the U.S. has passed laws restricting imports from Syria and Iraq, many argue little will change until the market for these stolen antiquities is eliminated. New efforts to curb the plunder of the world’s cultural heritage.
The fight to preserve the world's cultural heritage sites. But Sarah, please, let us not link it with ancient Egyptian tomb looting. That's a lame argument unworthy of you.

More on "Citizen Archaeologists"


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Book now for the 2016 conference - 'Can Detectorists Be Archaeologists?': 
Answer: It depends what you mean when you use that singularly vague term "detectorists" (and what you mean by the phrase "can be"). I've already explored the rather simplistic British Museum exegesis of the term "archaeology" here. Mostly, if the question is can artefact hunters be archaeologists in the real sense of the word at the same time as being artefact hunters and collectors, from what we have seen of what they do and say, the answer would be "no".

Interesting isn't it that neither Heritage Action's Nigel Swift nor myself, the two most vociferous commentators on the BM's nonsensical "citizen archaeologists" have been invited to talk. So - who has? Obviously those who think they have the answer to the PAS's pathetic little straw man argument:
 though there remain concerns about the (seemingly) haphazard searching techniques employed by most finders.
Duh, no, no that is not at all what the actual concerns are, but tell that to the ivory tower idjits trotting out their glib, childish and meaningless "common ground" mantra. The question is in itself a supremely silly one, as one might expect from these days from the British Museum.

Can bus drivers be archaeologists? Yes, but how many are? Probably fewer than become ornithologists.

Conflict Fake Antiquities Now?


I've been saying this for almost all the time the US Department of State started stirring up the fuss about Syria's Conflict antiquities (so has Dorothy King and a few others): Tim Cornwell, 'Almost 70% of smuggled objects seized in Syria and Lebanon are fakes, antiquities chief says', The Art Newspaper 24 August 2016. Now it's official:
Close to three-quarters of the artefacts seized in anti-smuggling operations in Syria and neighbouring Lebanon this year have proved to be fakes, Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim tells The Art Newspaper. [...] There have been growing questions over the extent of illicit digging and antiquities trafficking in Syria by militant groups including ISIS. Abdulkarim says that while 7,000 objects have been seized by authorities in Syria since 2013, the proportion of fakes has risen from 30% to closer to 70%, both inside the country and in neighbouring Lebanon. Objects seized by police in Damascus include 30 fake ancient Bibles, as well as Korans. Another haul was 450 gold Medieval coins, all discovered to be fake, along with scores of fake mosaic tableaus and statues. Some items were poorly made fakes that were quickly weeded out, but sometimes it was difficult to distinguish between the real artefacts and the copies. “I hope the originals are stopped and the fakes go to the market place,” Abdulkarim says. 
So do we all. Well, all except those collectors who pay out their money for artefacts of unknown provenance without demanding to see papers proving they are licit and kosher. But who cares about them getting 'stung'? Much of the article is about Palmyra:
Three Polish archaeologists have joined conservation and training efforts in Palmyra, while two broken pieces are to travel to Rome for an exhibition in October, to be repaired and returned by Italian experts as a symbol of solidarity. While Russian teams were among the first into Palmyra, Abdulkarim stressed that the historic ties in the field were widely with the West and appealed for archaeologists to rally to Syria. “I appeal at all times for French archaeologists, British archaeologists, German archaeologists to come,” he says. “All the damage [that has been done] to cultural heritage will be for generation after generation. Just come to Damascus.” [...]  Abdulkarim’s goal of working to set politics aside and preserve a shared heritage has been well received by the international community. “I refuse to use our cultural interest for political agendas. It’s our common heritage, it’s our common identity,” Abdulkarim tells us. “The politics will change, but the heritage won’t change.”

Monday, 22 August 2016

Naff of naff in Yorkshire


Just when you thought the discussion of metal detected artefacts could not hit a lower level... York does it again: 'The pot of anciet [sic] coins which may shed new light on York’s Roman past'... Yorkshire Post 20th August.

But the photo.. the photo is "something else" 

Tongue between the teeth UFO shot

The pot of anciet coins which may shed new light on York’s Roman past

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-yorkshire/heritage/the-pot-of-anciet-coins-which-may-shed-new-light-on-york-s-roman-past-1-8072005
The pot of anciet coins which may shed new light on York’s Roman past

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-yorkshire/heritage/the-pot-of-anciet-coins-which-may-shed-new-light-on-york-s-roman-past-1-8072005
The pot of anciet coins which may shed new light on York’s Roman past

Read more at: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/our-yorkshire/heritage/the-pot-of-anciet-coins-which-may-shed-new-light-on-york-s-roman-past-1-8072005

ACCG Exposed


Collectors, do you really want to have the 'freedom of access' on your market to dirty coins of types at risk of looting? New litigation sponsored by a deceptively-named coin dealer's organization aims to erode customs regulations on import of such objects. Dr. Peter Tompa, "a very highly qualified and distinguished attorney", claimed to be "one of the world's leading legal experts on cultural property law" is behind this. Meanwhile a cultural heritage lawyer who seems to me to know his stuff gives us a breakdown of the sad sorry saga of the way in which these dealers try to capitalise on their Baltimore Illegal Coin Import Stunt which they co-organized with London dealer Spink's ('One Side of the Coin: ACCG Re-Argues Previously Decided Legal Issues in Baltimore Test Case', Cultural Heritage Lawyer Monday, August 22, 2016) .
Soon afterward, the ACCG filed its motion for summary judgment and, on July 29, the court adopted a schedule that allows the parties to fully brief their positions. Once completed in mid-October, CHL expects to review the parties’arguments.
I look forward to seeing that. Meanwhile Mr Tompa is plaintively tweeting to all and sundry on Twitter trying to attract their attention: 
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Rick St. Hilaire on the coin collectors' Quixotic effort to gut regulation on potentially looted ancient coins
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To be fair, should link to the Guild's MSJ. Instead of spin, let the reader assess the merit.
and how 'fair' do ACCG dealers think they are being to the citizens (and collectors) of countries from which they want to continue to buy the material willy-nilly without bothering about the paperwork? Actually, if you read Rick St. Hilaire's careful analysis of the junk litigation of the ACCG, 'spin' is one of the last words that should come to mind to describe it. Once again we see that when collectors are called upon to give a substantive answer to serious critique, all they can muster is insults.
 
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