.In the ICE press release about the repatriation to Cambodia of items seized in "Operation Antiquity" it is perhaps telling that when searching for an analogy to bring home to US readers what such culture-crime involves, the best ICE/HSI Special Agent Michael Scott Crabb, who led 'Operation Antiquity', could come up with was:
"How would we, as U.S. citizens, feel if someone were to steal an original copy of the U.S. Constitution or Declaration of Independence and sell to it to someone across the globe?" Another analogous hypothetical might be, 'How would Americans feel if someone sliced the head off of George Washington from Mount Rushmore and sold it to the highest bidder?'A state whose own view of valued cultural property is exemplified by two curated late eighteenth century documents and a 1930s tourist attraction carved out of the Black Hills of South Dakota really is going to have difficulties actually understanding the issues involving dugup antiquities and the destruction of archaeological sites in the same way as the inhabitants of the Old World. How notable that he did not mention looting of Anasazi villages as the analogy.
This goes some way to explaining the gap which divides US collectors and dealers from those of us who live in the "source countries" which is noticeable when the issue of the looting of archaeological sites is being discussed. Not actually seeing the past of their own land in the way we do, they apparently simply do not understand the problem in the way which is obvious to the rest of us.
Vignette: Invented heritage: 1930s construction at Mount Rushmore - echos of other monuments from the ancient world, but not quite making it really...