Thursday, 17 April 2014

"P. Sapp Obbink"? Eh? Who owns this fragment?


Roberta Mazza, lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester on her  Faces&Voices blog ('Papyri, private collectors and academics: why the wife of Jesus and Sappho matter
' April 17th 2014) gives the following information about the publication of the new Sappho fragment:
Dirk Obbink does not provide any detail on acquisition circumstances and documents in the final publication of what is now called in papyrological language ‘P. Sapp. Obbink’, just out (Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 189, 2014, 32-49)
It seems rather unfortunate that somebody (Dr Obbink himself?)  chose the scholar's name to define the papyrus. It rather suggests he himself is the owner. Is he? How come?

Dr Mazza's post is well-argued and well worth reading. Please give the points she raises some thoughts.




Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Beaters are Out, Noisily Scaring the Crowd


" Silence [about the US-Egypt cultural property MOU] will only be spun as acquiesce by the US and Egyptian cultural bureaucracies as well as the powerful archaeological lobby".
There is a danger of course that it would be taken as a sign that US dugup collectors were maturing to a more responsible attitude towards the purchase of freshly-surfaced artefacts, and there is nothing that scares the Black Hat Guys more... 

European Parliament approves new provisions for the return of national treasures


European Commission Press release, 'European Parliament approves new provisions for the return of national treasures ', Brussels, 16 April 2014

In an effort to give better protection to objects that form part of the cultural heritage of the Member States and to contribute to the prevention and fight against illicit trafficking in cultural objects, the European Parliament has:
 voted in favour of a new directive to help EU countries organise the return of cultural objects that were unlawfully removed from their state and are currently located in another EU country. The new legislation aims at securing the recovery by an EU Member State of any cultural item identified as "national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value" which were illegally removed from its territory on or after 1 January 1993.

The new Directive extends the scope of protection to all cultural objects classified as "national treasures possessing artistic, historic or archaeological value" (under Council Directive 93/7/EEC of 15 March 1993 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State only a list of certain categories of national treasures or objects forming part of public collections or inventories of ecclesiastical institutions were qualified for return, e.g. archaeological objects of more than 100 years old).
In the light of national reports submitted by Member States and evaluations prepared by the European Commission, it appears that Directive 93/7/EEC is barely used and is of limited effect. Therefore, the Commission adopted, on the 30 May 2013, a proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State [COM (2013) 311 final]. The proposal, which recast Directive 93/7/EEC, as amended by Directives 96/100/EC and 2001/38/EC, aimed at enabling Member States to secure the return of any cultural object which is classified as a national treasure and has been unlawfully removed from their territory.
The new Directive also extends "the deadline to initiating return proceedings from 1 to 3 years" (after the requesting EU country becomes aware of the location of the cultural object and the identity of its possessor or holder). This new regulation most importantly places the burden of proof on the possessor:
if they seek compensation for the loss of the cultural object when it is returned to its original country. To obtain compensation, the possessor should prove that when they originally purchased the good, they exercised due care and attention in ascertaining its origin. Moreover, the new Directive provides for non-exhaustive criteria to facilitate a more uniform interpretation of the exercise of "due care and attention" by the possessor.
If they cannot demonstrate this in accordance with these criteria, they lose the object and are not entitled to any compensation. Interestingly, this looks as if it will operate retrospectively. Once approved by the Council, EU countries will be obliged to integrate the Directive into national law within 18 months of the Directive's adoption.

Antiquity Looting: Costs Inestimable


Donna Yates ‏tweets:
There is no believable estimate for the global cost of trafficking in cultural objects. If anyone tries to give you a price, they are wrong.
how about, inestimable costs? However much it "costs" in financial terms, we must stop it.

Spike in Ecuador Artefact Theft Indicates Growing Trade


Authorities in Ecuador have reported an uptick in reports of stolen historical artifacts, in a sign the highly lucrative transnational crime of antiquities trafficking may be growing in size (Mimi Yagoub, 'Spike in Ecuador Artifacts Theft Reports Points to Growing Trade ' InSight Crime, Tuesday, 15 April 2014).  
in some instances stolen artifacts are sold openly in auction houses in the United States and Europe, and the possibility of reclaiming them is made difficult by a lack of legislation in some countries stipulating that artifacts should be returned if proven stolen. This difficulty is increased by buyers who claim they did not know the piece was stolen and by a lack of witness testimony in many cases. [...] the main markets for South American antiquities are the United States, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, England, Japan and Saudi Arabia
Though lobbyists for the antiquities trade are stubbornly struggling to deny this, UNESCO warns that stolen cultural property often falls into the hands of criminal networks linked to other illegal activities, such as money laundering.
In the face of this challenge, some Latin American countries have made concerted efforts to combat the illegal trade, with Peru praised by UNESCO in March 2014 for its efforts. However, the diversification of criminal portfolios has made cultural property an alluring revenue stream to organized crime, and as noted by Ecuadorean authorities, its nature makes it hard to stop.
Who'd defend buying antiques and antiquities handled by cultural criminals? What kind of people are these involved in the no-questions-asked trade?


These People Have no Shame, Really


Heritage activist Monica Hanna has been labelled a "grifter" by John Hooker of the ACCG. These  Philistines are totally incapable of any kind of appreciation for what Ms Hanna has done for the heritage and it is shameful to watch how they
attack her.

UPDATE 17.04.14
I see John Hooker now denies he is associated with the ACCG.  Wise move, they are a nasty group of dangerous loonies causing huge damage to collecting. That however does not make Hooker (of ACCG's Hooker Papers infamy) any the less a philistine for attacking Monica Hanna in this manner along with the rest of his petty blinkered-minded coiney mates. David Knell's riposte to Hooker's denial hits the spot exactly.


 

Egypt Officially Asks U.S. for MoU to Protect Cultural Heritage


At last. Egypt Officially Asks U.S. for MoU to Protect Cultural Heritage' (15 Apr 2014). Egypt has made a formal request to have restrictions on the  import into the US of endangered archaeological material without the paperwork proving legal export. On June 2, the CPAC will begin a review of Egypt's proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU - not emergency restrictions). Not before time.

I am sure that, as in the case of every other one of these MOUs involving material they want to collect, a certain group of Black Hat Guys will be fighting this one tooth and nail.  Let them, let the world see what Philistines they, and the collectors that fail to oppose them, are. Exposing the no-questions-trade for what it is is the only way to clean up the antiquities market.

Between now and  May 14, when public comments close, the nasties will be comment-bombing Docket No. DOS-2014-0008 on the Federal eRulemaking Portal with all their 'arguments' against entering such an agreement with the Egyptians. No doubt they will be trotting out their normal whinges, whines and demands, and there is the prospect that political and anti-Moslem prejudices will be well visible alongside the usual antiquitist loose-thinking.

I would like to urge any US collectors intending to buy looted artefacts reading this to go to the docket and make fools of yourselves by following your lobbyists' instructions and opposing the Gubn'mint in the way they tell you. Show us who you are. Go,on, off you go now.

I'd like the rest of us who feel it is worth making a comment (just for the principle of it) to read the "four determinations" laid out by the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act and think about them for themselves (something the collectors seem incapable of doing) and then write something from their heart and mind which stands apart from the Philistines.  Rick St Hilaire gives the four as "including":
(A) [whether] the cultural patrimony of the State Party is in jeopardy from the pillage of archaeological or ethnological materials of the State Party; 
(B) [whether] the State Party has taken measures consistent with the Convention to protect its cultural patrimony; 
(C) [whether] --(i) the application of the import restrictions . . . with respect to archaeological or ethnological material of the State Party, if applied in concert with similar restrictions implemented, or to be implemented within a reasonable period of time, by those nations (whether or not State Parties [to the 1970 UNESCO Convention]) individually having a significant import trade in such material, would be of substantial benefit in deterring a serious situation of pillage, and(ii) remedies less drastic than the application of the restrictions set forth in such section are not available; and 
(D) [whether] the application of the import restrictions . . . in the particular circumstances is consistent with the general interest of the international community in the interchange of cultural property among nations for scientific, cultural, and educational purposes.
As every time this happens, the Black Hat Guys will try to present this as a competition ("there were more of us than them, but the Gubn'mint did not listen to us"). It is not a competition of course, nor is it a vote. But let the comments reflect that there are not just exploitive selfish Black Hat Guys thinking about Egypt and its cultural heritage. Their comment-bombing campaigns have been getting progressively weaker and ill-focussed, I'd very much like to see them given a run for their money this time. Come on, we all care about ancient Egypt, surely.


 
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