Friday, 24 November 2017

Joan Howard Collection 'under investigation'?

Australia is investigating allegations that Joan Howard stole collectable artefacts from archaeological sites during her husband’s diplomatic trips (Australian Associated Press, ''Indiana Joan': Perth woman, 95, accused of looting Egypt artefacts' Guardian Friday 24 November 2017)
The Australian government has confirmed it is looking into the case of a 95-year-old Perth woman accused of looting artefacts from countries including Egypt. Monica Hanna of Egypt’s Heritage Taskforce posted an open letter to Australia’s ambassador to Egypt, Neil Hawkins [...]  Hanna said Howard had taken advantage of her diplomatic status and her behaviour was “not acceptable”. [...]  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was investigating the matter and was obliged under Unesco conventions to return foreign cultural items that had been illegally exported from their country of origin.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mrs Howard's digs were not authorised by any educational institution, nor given permission from Egyptian or other Arab authorities. The Howard family has declined to comment on the case.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Another Find Challenges Coin Dealer Myth

Another archaeological discovery which counters the asinine claim by dealers in ancient coins that hoards 'wee always' buried away from any places where their digging up by artefact hunters could destroy archaeological evidence: 'Archaeologists Discover Large Roman Building under Tree Where Coin Hoard Was Found in Bulgaria's Mezdra', Novinite, November 22, 2017. The hoard was third century and the building was still standing in the fourth century.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Creating a False Past Through Bad Collecting Practice

A multimillion-dollar trade in fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls fuelled by a surge in interest from wealthy evangelicals in the US includes a significant number of suspected forgeries, two prominent experts have said ( Peter Beaumont and Oliver Laughland, 'Trade in Dead Sea Scrolls awash with suspected forgeries, experts warn', Guardian 21 November 2017).

Monday, 20 November 2017

Illegal Antiquities Trade Robbing Indonesia of History

The head 'just happened to come off',
and such heads 'just happen'
to be very collectable...
The illegal antiquities trade is robbing Indonesia of its history and millions of dollars ( Adi Renaldi, Indonesia Can't Stop Its Illegal Treasure Hunters', Vice Nov 21 2017) In the Central Java district of Sukoharjo looters are willing to pay local farmers as much as Rp 3 million ($222 USD) a day for the right to dig for buried treasures on the site of a protected ancient Buddhist temple there under the cover of darkness.
The money is a vital windfall for the village's rice farmers, who would typically make nothing off their paddies during the dry season. But it's also proven to be a difficult crime to prosecute. And with little risk of being caught there are few reasons for farmers in Joho village to not offer their fields up to cashed-up treasure hunters. "I know nothing about the heritage," one farmer, a man named Mariman, told the Jakarta Post. "Someone says they want to rent my field... I just allow them."
These looters are of course by no means 'subsistence diggers' but professional culture thieves, corrupting landowners by offering money for loot, no-questions-asked. Dealers and their lobbyists insist that offering landowners subsidies of some kind so they can have what they call 'a living wage' fail to explain how such a system would actually work in practice. A farmer can claim a subsidy by day, and still close his eyes to what happens in his fields at night and get payment for that too. The antiquities vanish into a murky black market with very little chance that they can be successfully  recovered by authorities. The article details other sites where material has been removed, and museum thefts.
Rosinta Hutauruk, the spokesperson for UNESCO's Indonesia office, told VICE. "The illicit trade in cultural objects continues to increase because there's stable demand," she said. [...] These antiquities typically pass through multiple sellers, crossing international borders before then end up in the hands of wealthy private collectors and museums. The Archeological Institute of America estimates that as much as 90 percent of the artifacts sold on the legal market don't have any paperwork listing where, and how, they were discovered. Add in the fact that the black market for stolen antiquities is also full of forgeries and it's easy to see how difficult it is to track down missing artifacts like those that vanished from rice paddies in Joho village. [...] once Indonesia's historical artifacts go missing, they may be lost forever.
What is needed, it is obvious to everyone (including one suspects the dealers and their lobbyists who are opposed to it), is increased transparency of the international antiquities market, and greater accountability on where items are coming from and going.  Only in this way will the gaping jaws of this voracious commerce be closed to the peddlers of illicit and freshly-surfaced (from underground) items.

Egypt retrieves ancient artefacts from Cyprus

ncient Egyptian items due to
return home from Cyprus soon. 
Image Credit: Ministry of Antiquities
Ramadan Al Sherbini, 'Egypt retrieves ancient artifacts from Cyprus' Gulf News November 20, 2017
Ancient Egyptian artifacts, smuggled out of the country more than three decades ago, will soon return home from Cyprus, an official at the Ministry of Antiquities said on Monday. “The ministry has succeeded through diplomatic and legal efforts to prove that these pieces left Egypt illegally and reached Cyprus in 1986,” Shaaban Abdul Jawad, the director of the retrieved antiquities department, added in a press statement. [...] They include an alabaster vase carrying the name of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II and 13 amulets of different shapes and sizes including those of sacred emblems and statutes, Abdul Jawad added. “Recovery of these pieces comes as hard evidence that the Ministry of Antiquities spares no efforts in order to restore Egypt’s stolen and smuggled antiquities and protect its cultural possessions,” said Abdul Jawad.
I don't know about that alabaster but that crude ceramic shabti with a large winged scarab on its breast does not look much like the real thing to me. What is the point of gathering all this bazaar archaeology in Egyptian stores? What can be done with it?

UPDATE 21.11.17
The question will not go away (Ahram)

Come on, get serious guys...

Incestual Relations: CCP Welcomes Global Heritage Alliance

American Committee for Cultural Policy welcomes Global Heritage Alliance, a new cultural policy advocacy organization,

but, but... they are basically the same old guys... there's nothing much 'new' in what they are saying and doing. Same old story.

Spot the Difference

Metal detectorist in the UK:

UK detectorist (Rotary International in GB and I)

Collector in Perth:
Joan Howard (The West Australian)
Spot the difference. Both seek publicity and social approval, one wears a pink shirt, the other a turquoise dress, but both are making personal collections of material removed from archaeological sites and contexts, damaging the archaeological record.

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