Thursday, 30 August 2012

The London Connection


Coffin lid, surfaced in Jerusalem
There is some more information on the pieces of the sawn-up painted anthropoid coffin lid seized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) from a shop showroom in Jerusalem's Old City in  2011. It is reported to be that of an "unidentified 16th Dynasty nobleman". The Times of Israel (Gabe Fisher and Asher Zeiger, 'Israel to return stolen sarcophagi' (with the tagline: "Coffin it up") The Times of Israel, August 30, 2012 ) states that: 
the owner of the shop where the sarcophagi were found had claimed to have bought the artifacts in Dubai and legally transferred them to Israel by way of London.
The mention of the involvement of a London intermediary is interesting. Readers may remember that when the 'Brooklyn' bust occurred, in which a dealer from Dubai was sought (is still being sought), Zahi Hawass let slip that the investigation was intended to be broader, involving somebody in England, which looks rather like the unintended (unauthorised) leaking of operational information. Also the Pa-Miw (aka "Wenneb") shabtis that I discussed here (not a few of which were in the hands of a dealer accused of being involved in that network) were reportedly being distributed piecemeal to other dealers by a central figure in London (to whom when the discussion on them seemed to be indicating they were most likely looted, dealers like Bron Lipkin returned them without revealing the person's name). One London dealer (an AIAD one at that) however is still offering them, regardless.

The current investigations of the Kapoor case are reported elsewhere now to be investigating a route of some objects through the UK on their way from Asia to New York. 

Some time ago the British government made the announcement that they were going to "do something" about the market in illicit antiquities. All they actually ever coughed up was the "Dealing in Cultural Property (Offences) Act" which has proven to be totally ineffective as a tool, serving [like the US CCPIA] purely decorative purposes. Do the British authorities intend to take this problem seriously? Or are they quite content to allow a constant flow of dodgy artefacts to be 'laundered' under their noses? 


Scrabcake said...

These are two nice provincial lower class lids. They aren't 16th dynasty, the news report is wrong. I'm guessing 19th to 21st. The reason we can't say for sure is that a) like this one they were looted and decontextualized b) they were contextualized but the late 19th or early to mid 20th century scholar was looking for richer bling for their museum and decontextualized them without taking many notes or c) modern scholars find them and take notes but don't ever publish for whatever reason. These are lower class items--middle class and provincial nobility. We have typologies of the items of the wealthy classes of specific locales, ie Thebes.
There are some publications on these: Martin Raaven has done a good job publishing the coffins in the Iurudef shaft and this seems to have become the go to work even though they are only a small section of the Iurudef book. I recall that the Canadian society for the study of Egyptian antiquities did a short article as well in their journal on these types of coffins., which I ought to revisit. Historically they have been neglected which is another reason it's sad to see two good examples looted like this.

Paul Barford said...

Thanks for that contribution. The lid has apparently been carbon-dated and that date was much later than 16th dyn too, so what you say makes sense.

[Maarten J. Raven 1991, 'The Tomb of Iurudef, a Memphite Official in the Reign of Ramesses 2', Egypt Exploration Society...].

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