Saturday, 20 September 2014

Scattered Archives, Institutional Untrustworthyness: Why Partage Was Never a Good Idea

With regard to the upcoming Bonhams sale of antiquities currently in the care of the AIA (the so-called Treasure of Harageh* Lot 160), Douglas Boin and T Finan (both professors in the Department of History at St. Louis University) have written a hard-hitting article in the St Louis Post-Despach "Egyptian Artifacts Should Be Returned Not Auctioned Off":

Monica Hanna, an Egyptian archaeologist who has worked tirelessly to protect and retrieve Egypt’s cultural heritage in recent years, said, “If the St. Louis Society wants to divest themselves of their Egyptian artifacts, I have no doubt that Egypt would gladly offer to take them back.” We asked the leadership of the St. Louis Society to explain their reasons for the sale, including how it plans to use the proceeds, but did not receive a response. The board of directors is scheduled to meet Saturday. Members of the St. Louis archaeological community are justly outraged that they weren’t consulted about the society’s decision. [...] Why is the St. Louis society proceeding in the face of so much local and national opposition? It can’t be for lack of display space in the city. We’re confident that many St Louis institutions would gladly work with the society to house the artifacts, if not to adequately present the storied history of these items to a wider public. The society should halt the sale of its “treasure” immediately.
but it turns out that this is not an isolated case. Boin notes Lot 162, An Egyptian alabaster-travertine headrest of the First Intermediate Period was also excavated at the site, from half-way up a shaft in Cemetery E. Yet a further item flogged off by the AIA in St Louis has come back on the market. Boin mentions an inscribed block from a wall in an inner room of Akhenaten's River Temple at Tell Amarna, excavated during the 1922 season of the Egyptian Exploration Society under the direction of Sir Leonard Woolley then in the AIA collections, received from the Egyptian Exploration Society in the 1920s, but acquired in the early 1970s by the 'Claude Harkins Collection' (Kansas City, Missouri, USA) and recently back on sale as Lot 150 in Bonham's April 2014 Auction 21926.
* A misdescription they are grave goods excavated in 1913-14 by the British School of Archaeology in Egypt from Tomb 124 at Harageh, the Fayum, near Lahun.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Is this Evidence of Ancient Time Travel?

An absolutely, certainly, completely watertight post-1970-surfacing ancient, ancient, ancient metal item in an upcoming London auction bears some amazing traces which can only be interpreted as evidence of ancient time travel. Look at this groove. The toolmarks and form suggest very strongly that it was cut with a rotary tool rather than a tracer. Now we all know that Middle Eastern fakers of the early twentieth century used hand tools much like those used by ancient artisans, so that cannot be the explanation can it? Even though the lumpy design looks like it owes a lot to Art Deco modes... Nah, I reckon it's time travel all right. There's another longer groove just to the left with the same characteristics.

There are quite a few rather odd looking things in that catalogue... many of them with rather sketchy collecting histories. Caveat-you-know-who.

ADCAE Dealer from the UK "Regrets"

An anonymous ADCAE dealer based in the UK announces on his or her website that although the CCPIA allows import of antiquities from countries with MOUs, on the basis of TWO different kinds of paperwork indicating licit export from the source country:

(NO collecting history stated)  Regretfully, we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.

Wot, no paperwork?

("Previously in a German private collection and supplied with a thermoluminescence certificate from Laboratory Ralf Kotalla, Haigerloch, Germany, dating from November 1981") Regretfully, we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
Wot, no other paperwork? 

("Ex German private collection") Regretfully, we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
Wot, no paperwork?

("Previously in a private Florida collection")  Regretfully...
wot, no paperwork? 

("Previously in a private Florida collection") Regretfully we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
Wot, no paperwork here either? 

("Previously in a private Florida collection") Regretfully we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
No paperwork then? 

("Previously in a New York State private collection") Regretfully, we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
Paperwork deficiency perhaps? 

(NO collecting history stated) Regretfully, we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
Another one without da paperwerk? 

(NO collecting history stated) Regretfully, we are unable to sell this item to American clients due to US import restrictions.
Go on, surprise us, you've got paperwork for this one but this one's too nice to let go?

There are another two pages of this nonsense.  So how is it this dealer claims to be following ADCAE Code of Ethics, if he has no documentation of the collecting history that would allow the production of the very basic information requirted to import these objects under the terms of the US CCPIA? Where's the due diligence? Interestingly, the dealer does not say if they'd ship to Peru.

ADCAEA members now have secret Guidelines

"The Association of Dealers and Collectors of Ancient
and Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA) is an organization dedicated
to providing resources, education, networking and support to advance
the responsible and legal trading and collecting of ancient and ethnographic art"
"All ADCAEA members subscribe to and maintain the following code of conduct: [...] 10. All members shall promote awareness and understanding of collecting principals (sic!) through open communication with allied collectors and the public". 
Yeah, right, which is why their guidelines for conducting due diligence are only visible by subscribers: ("campaign"?). It seems not to have been put out for consultation, and  allied collectors and members of the public are not allowed to see what they propose without paying.

Do all four ADCAEA dealers apply these guidelines to every single of their purchases, including the one that very frequently turns up in my search results by people who obviously see some sort of reason to have serious doubts about him or her? And the anonymous one from the UK? It strikes me that if you cannot put your name to a statement, that statement is not worth very much.

Knell on the PAS

David Knell has a few interesting comments (Friday, 19 September 2014, 'A few thoughts on the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)') including the following, with which I am in total agreement:
I would urge the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), as a government organisation in the front line of the situation, to do a better job at getting the conservation message across [...] There seems to be a common misconception that the mission of the PAS is to encourage and foster metal detecting for its own sake. It is not. [...] I think the word 'partnership' is an unfortunate choice of vocabulary. I suspect the PAS meant the word to convey merely taking part in something but a large number of detectorists apparently interpret it as meaning far more: that they are equal to the trained professionals. Sadly, what those professionals actually do seems to be utterly lost on the more braindead members of the hobby, many of whom are under the impression that 'archaeology' is just about digging up objects [...] Thus, we witness the abysmal stupidity of claims such as that made by James Warr. There are undoubtedly perceptive detectorists out there but it is clear that a large proportion of them are anything but. [...] the PAS faces an uphill struggle - and I would like to see them spend more time on explaining the pitfalls of the hobby and less time on condoning its sensationalisation.
I would add to that, let the PAS start at last telling it like it is, with a bit more transparency and detail in presenting the results of "outreach" to artefact hunters compared with other groups of the public and an openness in their presentation which seems to me to be rather difficult to find at the moment.

Detectorists Trailer

Now we know what the "slightly intimidating blokes in a pub" scene was about. But how many black metal detectorists are there in Danbury?

Post użytkownika Lola Entertainment.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

War Diggers Website Criticises UK Police

Still on the subject of the concerns of HAPPAH about the plague of British metal detectorists coming over to the continent and plundering World War One and World War Two sites and walking off with the stuff, regardless of the need to protect sites from such vandalism, here's a site aimed at those with an interest in buying artefacts from the Great War: "One stop resource for artefacts and information": Items offered include:
"Pair of relic condition British cavalry spurs unearthed near Ypres in Flanders. A rare don't see any for years and suddenly you locate two pairs in two different countries! A nice addition to any collection and now available in the website catalogue".["Relic condition" - translate as 'dug up']; "Interesting find from the site of an artillery emplacement near Poeringhe outside Ypres in Flanders [...]".
There are lots more ground-dug objects figured.... In not one of the examples I looked at was any mention of any documentation from the landowners signing ownership over to the finder or any information about documentation of the following of proper export/import regulations of dugup cultyural property.

The St Albans raid is described there as
Typical UK Plod overkill... and I speak as ex police. [...] I think I sold him that granatenwerfer in one of the pics. Pity they couldnt find time to investigate [...*] gangs gang-raping young white girls in our towns and cities. An easy, soft target. It makes me laugh when they go into panic mode and cordon off areas and evacuate in case anything is live.
Another member Nick Wotherspoon from Manchester agrees that the UK police have their priorities wrong:
Not the first time it has happened and the gutter press just love it and lap it up - getting to be a bit of a vicious circle PS What is a "Heritage Crime" ?
Stealing historical artefacts from protected historical sites or without the required permission, removing them extra-legally from the source country and selling them on would be three. Seventeen million ponds of PAS "outreach" really seen to be paying off there ...

[*] Hate speech deleted. See what kind of people are among those who collect relics of "Our" Past.

Hat tip to Nigel Swift for link.
Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.