.Since he labelled Hugh Jarvis' extensive online bibliography on the "Looting Question" a "disgrace to academic research" which "does not even attempt to address the vast published scope of private and public collector thought on the subject", Wayne Sayles offered to put up a "more balanced" bibliography on the topic to supplement that of Jarvis. He has now carried out that intent:
There are many bibliographies online that highlight the archaeological perspective in the cultural property debate. The bibliography that follows is supplemental to those as it focuses on resources with a more balanced perspective.More balanced? Judged as a reading list from a US "collectors' rights" lobby group opposed to “archeologie uber alles” as they put it, there is very little here about collecting in the US of archaeological artefacts. There are three or so references to metal detecting in the UK, but nothing about metal detecting in the US (and there is a debate on this over there). Nothing about the debates on pot-digging in the US (such as those emerging from the Blanding case) or arrowheads. So much then for a large part of US "collector thought" on the subject. In fact one learns more about this from Jarvis' bibliography than Sayles'.
It may be argued that the ACCG is all about coin collecting, and elsewhere has a lot to say about the "public benefits of coin collecting". So where is "collector thought" on this reflected in the bibliography? In fact very few of the listed items refer to coins at all (I counted just five), which is rich as this was one of Sayles' specific criticisms of Jarvis.
A dominant theme is texts on the broad theme of how jolly silly US customs regulations on antiquities imports are and a series of legalistic articles, but while - revealingly - this is almost the entire focus of the ACCG's activity, this is actually getting well away from the topic of "looting" isn't it?
There are also an awful lot of "who owns..." texts (presumably referring to the 'other end' of the collectors' supply chain in the 'source countries'). Well, the answer is obvious, we all do, but the key to the argument is how dealers and collectors (private and institutional) come into posession of what they have. The issue here is not ownership per se, but chain of legitimate ownership. There is not a word about any of this in Sayles' bibliography, which perpetuates the manner in which collectors misrepresent the topic of major concern. And I really cannot believe that this means there is NO "collector thought" on this topic.
Also as I predicted earlier Sayles in his bibliography equates museum collecting with private collecting, which is by no means as valid as it might have been a few decades ago.
Then there's the inevitable thread represented by a few works on "the current market is not doing any harm and is good for artefacts" and the somewhat unneccessary what a lot of idiots archaeologists, anthroplogists and all the rest are as they don't know what "culture is" and they are all radical nationalists thread.
Not a single work by ACCG mouthpieces Dave Welsh or John Hooker or the current ACCG President referenced I note. Nor anything on or emerging from the ACE. David Gill notes other obvious omissions. I would add my favourite piece of antiquitist special pleading, Tokely -Parry's Rescuing the Past: The Cultural Heritage Crusade, why is THAT not on Sayles' list (is it because he was put in prison?). Tokely says exactly the same things as the ACCG dealers. I am sure it would not be so difficult to find other notable omissions.
And all but one of the references Sayles cited are in English, as if there were no "collector thought" on the international market anywhere else in the world .I find it very odd that some of the entries in Sayles bibliography make reference to the online versions, while others do not even though I know that many other references he cites are in fact accessible online. Did he want to hide this, or did he simply not check?
Jarvis' bibliography incorporates a number of online resources including blogs, forums and webpages. Sayles omits use of any of these, which is odd because it is precisely through forums like the Yahoo "Ancient Artifacts" forum, or in coin collecting terms "Moneta-L" as well as for example UK "Metal detecting" forums that those interested in the issues can find "collectors' thoughts" on them, written down by the collectors themselves. It is symptomatic though that virtually all of these resources are kept as closed access media, preventing outsiders from learning those "thoughts". As a result, the outside reader is unlikely to be able to penetrate very far into the issues. There is a "vast body of private and public collector thought on the subject" which is thus inaccessible to the public - the public who is the beneficiary of the "who owns..." questions. The compulsive need for secrecy in the antiquities market is not - to my knowledge - addressed in any detail in any of the bibliographic items Sayles cites. Why not?
It would have been nice also to see mentioned T.J. Buggey's webpage "Ethics and Coin collecting", even though it is both dated and superficial, it is notable as one of the few accounts I have come across in this milieu which even acknowledges that there is an ethical (rather than merely legal) issue. Perhaps that is why Sayles ignores it. He does not like reid oldsborough, so that's probably the reason his page on the topic (which, whether you agree with what he writes, is "collectors' thought" too) is also ignored.
Also since the 'rival' bibliography to which this is intended as a supplement (allegedly - because I do not think it is true) considers "the archaeological viewpoint" and in the works there cited some quite specific accusations are made about collecting and the effects of the current trade and current modes of collecting on the long-term survival of archaeological sites and assemblages, it is surprising that there are very few items ciited in Sayles list which actually refute those arguments in any detail. In particular ACCG mouthpiece Welsh has several times stated the collectors' view that "there is no scientific proof that collecting causes looting" (what he mis-terms "the Renfrew Hypothesis - it is in fact Elia's). There is not a single work cited by Sayles in his balanced bibliography which sets out the views of this school of thought and the argumentation behind it. Neither is there a single work cited setting out the details of the stupid argument that the coins collected by collectors do not come from archaeological sites because they all come from hoards buried in the middle of a campaign by soldiers on the edge of battlefields. There is a whole load of collector lore which is bandied about in the literature (and especially these days the coiney literature and 'discussions') which is simply not represented in Sayles' bibliography. Why not?
Perhaps Sayles, calling Jarvis' efforts a "disgrace" did not have much of a concept of how difficult compiling a resource like this actually is, let alone making it reflect all possible points of view. Now I suspect he does. As Tom Flynn noted, the cultural heritage field is "divided and polemical enough without those divisive and entrenched positions being brought into the classroom", perhaps now the ideologues of the collecting world could take a cold look at Sayles' bibliography and work out what is missing - or more importantly what has not yet been written and published in a formal form.