Friday, 9 July 2010

Iraq Looting Continues: Antiquities Police and Irresponsible Collecting

This story has been going around for the last week or so, but seems not to be a concern of the "collectors' rights" blogs, so I thought I'd better mention it. Here's an AlJazeeraEnglish video:

We see open tombs, which apparently have been looted. Of course anything that was found here has been taken away by the mythical coin pixies, because of course as any western antiquity dealer will tell you, all the unprovenanced objects THEY are selling come from some ephemeral "old collections" which have been broken up (which one, they cannot say "for commercial reasons"). Those coin pixies must have a lot of artefacts hoarded away out of sight of the antquities police.

Is more guns the answer here? Do we - like the collectors insisting the looting is the fault of a lack of policing - really want to see people being shot at over a load of old pots? Surely the answer is that if people will buy unprovenanced material no-questions-asked, culture criminals will continue to find it profitable to produce them. If it becomes increasingly difficult to sell freshly-looted stuff on the international market because of increased vigilance of discriminating antiquity collectors, then it is obvious to all but the thickest diehard antiquity-dealing naysayer that the trade in freshly- looted material will be severely hit. Why would dealers in portable antiquities be against that?

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

spot on, Paul! Education and (primarily) "demand side" investigations/policing over more guns any day.

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