Friday, 9 October 2015

Pentagon ending program to train, equip Syria rebels

As ISIL militants edge closer to Aleppo, news comes that ' ':
The Pentagon on Friday announced it was ending its failed $500 million program to "train and equip" Syrian rebels and replacing it with a far less ambitious plan, defense officials said [...] Instead of combat training for the rebels, they will now be used as "enablers" to identify ISIS targets on the ground for U.S. and coalition airstrikes.
Ah, the 'colonial' model. The New York Times as usual gets it wrong:
 After struggling for years to identify groups in Syria that it can confidently support, the Obama administration on Friday abandoned its effort to build a rebel force inside Syria to combat the Islamic State. It acknowledged the failure of its $500 million campaign to train thousands of fighters [...].
[UPDATE The Washington Post follows suit, the US is "not" funding anti-Assad rebels to fight Assad after all, they are only there to fight ISIL ISIL, yeah yeah. This forgets the funding started when ISIL was just a twinkle in its foundewr's eye]. Meanwhile while we are all distracted by Russian airstrikes, ISIL is reportedly now within 2 km (1.2 miles) of government-held territory on the northern edge of Aleppo.

Sotheby's Sale Questioned in Washington Conference?

"The National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul has
 been looted and is missing a great part of its collection,
 much of which has found its way into the art market".

Surely not? At the conference 'Uniting to Save World Cultures: Investigating the Attributes of Successful Emergency Cultural Heritage Protection Interventions', Fahim Rahimi (Chief Curator, National Museum of Afghanistan) showed some photos of some objects he apparently said had been "looted from Afghan museum". Coincidentally what looks awfully like one of them was sold at Sotheby's the previous day"


Arts of the Islamic World 07 October 2015
"Exhibited Islamic Calligraphy: Sacred and Secular Writings, Musée d'art et d'histoire, Geneva, 26 May-2 October 1988; The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, 1 December 1988 - 8 January 1989; The Zamana Gallery, London, 26 January - 26 March 1989; Museum Rietberg (Haus zum Kiel), Zurich, 20 April - 31 August 1989; The Jordan National Gallery, Amman, 13 September - 11 November 1989".
What's going on? Are they the same object? If so, why does Rahimi apparently illustrate it as an object missing from his museum (looted from 1992)? In any case, where did the Sotheby's one come from before it was "exhibited" in May 1988? ("exhibition" is no collecting history). Who was the owner (a gallery") before it began its series of travels between exhibitions at the end of the 1980s? When and how did it leave the source country?

In any case, what is the point of a "red list" if examples of the sort of objects which are on it appear in reputable London auction houses with no more traces of attempts to legitimise them than "exhibited"?  


Object and Event

"It is a category mistake to attribute dates to objects at all; because only events have dates. What objects have is histories."—Alfred Gell
hat tip 

Site Theft in Kent

Bexley Archaeology Group (BAG Archaeology) have had their site hut broken into and somebody walked off with their surveying equipment and small finds. Collectors, keep an eye open for the latter. Pictures can be found here.

"Saving Norfolk's History" has Support of Hundreds

The great British public is "Petitioning Norfolk County Council To Stop proposed cuts too (sic) Norfolk's historical find and identification service", all four hundred of them. A massive turnout of support there from the metal detectorists of Norfolk and elsewhere.

"The corrosion on the coin makes us believe it likely the coin was a recent find".

Message from the PAS about the discovery of that Komnenid coin:  
Sorry for the delay in replying. We are reviewing the use of the ‘comments’ box as there is some overlap in how people use this and ‘error reports’. On the issue of the find in question, we have no reason to believe the find was not found where the finder’s says it was discovered. But if you do have evidence to the contrary do let us know. The corrosion on the coin makes us believe it likely the coin was a recent find.  Best wishes, Michael
Most of us archaeologists believe that form and chemistry of the corrosion on buried metal objects is an indicator of the burial environment (as I wrote)  rather than the time that elapsed since an object was dug up. It seems the PAS believes that corrosion self-destructs at a certain rate and that if an object from the ground has no corrosion on it, it must have "surfaced" a long time ago. This is patently false. I am talking about a plate of black crusty corrosion not removed by any cleaning treatment coating a silver object. I would think this is a sulphide rather than oxide, but there is no mention, let alone description, of this unusual feature in the PAS 'record' of this object. The PAS seem to think such corrosion is common on the crag sands  of Suffolk. I'd like to see them prove that by showing us other ancient silver objects with the same corrosion on them - handed-in-for-recording hammies for example.

I think this is another case of the PAS not reading an argument before dismissing it. My tracking software shows that Bloomsbury did not access that post before Mr Lewis replied. What guarantee is there of the integrity and reliability of the 'data' the organization collates if the collection is carried out so uncritically?

Grabby Detectorists Get it Wrong

 Readers may remember the fuss that a Treasure Hunter kicked up because he thought he was "not getting enough" for his barely-displayable hoard of twenty pieces of scrap silver. Especially he moans when he splits it three ways, between the two finders and the landowner.
 so, today we received the valuation for our 20 piece, 1kg,1100 year old viking hoard of hack silver. Split 3 ways between myself, daniel and the land owner.... £400 each I honestly am gutted. We dont do it for the money but lets be honest, there is no wonder so many finds go unrecorded to the flo. We knew the BM would rip us off but we didnt expect to be stripped naked and well and truely screwed by them.

It seems that UK metal detectorists do not always know their Treasure Act and associated documents. If they did they'd know it will be split two ways:
73. If it is established that the permission to enter the land was subject to the finder and occupier and/or the landowner agreeing to share any reward, the Secretary of State will be prepared to apportion the reward with reference to the agreement.

77. If there is more than one finder that residual part of the reward to which they are entitled (after the deduction of the portion due to the landowner) will normally be paid to them in equal proportions except where there is an agreement to the contrary.
 One third shares would only arise if the finds agreement specified finder(s) two thirds/ farmer one third, which would be outrageous and unlikely. The architects of the Treasure Code, being rational and fair minded, would have intended 50%, 25% and 25% but the hoiker, anxious to share with his mate, has mistakenly inferred it will be thirds all round (and the landowner will be short-changed). In a metal detecting forum thread ten pages long, not a single member has pointed this out.

Hat tip to Farmer Silas Brown who is livid
at the cheek of these reward-grabbing-bandits

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