Saturday, 21 June 2014

More on Looted Antiquities and Political Violence

Derek Fincham a few days ago questioned the links made in a recent media article between antiquities looting and smuggling and political violence (specifically that which US commentators label "terrorism"). Sam Hardy ('Conflict Antiquities') answers him in a very lucid presentation of the arguments not to dismiss this problem so lightly: "The connection of looting and terrorism (or political violence) in cultural heritage advocacy" (21.6.14). This is followed by a refutation of the one-sided  irrelevant online snideness from another quarter:
According to antiquities collector and paid antiquities collecting lobbyist Peter Tompa, ‘the archaeological lobby is cynically exploiting the rise of the ISIS terrorist group in Iraq to try to justify a further clamp down on collectors’. Apparently, I am that lobby. And apparently a wish for antiquities
traders only to trade in demonstrably legal antiquities is a call for a clamp down.
(Sam Hardy, 'Is there significant evidence of paramilitary funding from the illicit antiquities trade? Yes', 21 June 2014). Hardy, who has obviously devoted some attention (and time) to cite his sources, marshals evidence which at the least sheds doubt on the trade-lobbyist's flat denials. Hardy basically demonstrates that "Cultural Property Observer" has no grasp at all on the facts of what he claims to be "observing". No news there, then. The lobbyist for the no-questions asked dugup antiquities market (and his insulting BFF metal detecting sidekicks) are losing it, and quite obviously have nothing of any importance to say on the wider issues raised by the antiquities trade. It seems that they have decided, along with Mr Sayles, that the only possible tactic they can manage is to play the victim and concentrate on deflecting attention by their time-wasting empty-headed sniping.

The dealers and lobbyists will refuse to discuss this, and no doubt be in lethargic denial for a long time yet. The point is that their protests of innocence do not make the issues go away, or stop the abuses. All they are achieving is encouraging inaction within the trade which exacerbates the problem, and prolongs human misery (not their own people of course just the brown-skinned people the international trade of which they form a part takes artefacts from). Meanwhile the world around them watches and learns, as portable antiquity collectors alienate themselves more and more. 

Vignette: armed, dangerous and initially supported by money from "somewhere".

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