My comments on the Macedonian antiquities convictions aroused interest among the airheads with metal detectors. As usual the "passinitly interestid in th' 'istry" mob seem unconcerned about any of the other issues raised here about the responsibilities of artefact hunting and artefact collecting (indeed, laughing about them). The moment mention is made of an archaeologist being mixed up in some dodgy dealings, then suddenly their ears prick up. One of them (from the camp totally oblivious to the nature of the issues are with thoughtless airheads hoiking artefects to collect), unreflexively writes on his blog: "we are painted with an extremely broad brush as bad guys by those in the ‘holier than thou’ enemy camp, yet when misdeeds like the following happen they are always labelled inaccurate, misconstrued, taken out of context or political in nature". Another of the same ilk, calling himself supernova1c
guffaws that this made him laugh. He says he "found the article on the greedy archaeologist very interesting, you don’t hear them shouting about that!". The artefact hunters' favourite "two wrongs make a right" argument.
I wonder whether any of them had actually read the article properly, rather than the headline. You know reading, where you put words in a row and then understand them? If you follow through the articles about the case going back over a year (I doubt any of them even thought of doing that, even though the information is in the Internet a mouse-click away) they would have found that the archaeologist they are "laughing" about has been sentenced for giving permission for artefact hunting, for aiding artefact hunters like themselves. Whether out of "greed" or not is not recorded.
The point I was making in my earlier post is that although the permits (which I presume exist) bear his signature, the precise conditions under which they were issued may not be so clear. Note that the antiquities ring is reported as being run by his deputy in the office. I think one can see that there is a variety of possible scenarios from which the court could have chosen, for various reasons. That is the point I was making about the political context here.
In most eastern European countries you need a permit to conduct archaeological excavations. Without them, excavations are illegal. Yet artefact hunters cannot get these permits, because state legislation in these countries usually specifies out who can get them and what for. To issue such a permit to people who do not fit those definitions is illegal. This is the dilemma artefact hunters have in many parts of Europe. I have written about this a number of times on this blog in the past, Raimund Karl wrote about it in support of Austrian artefact hunters. Polish archaeologists complain they cannot legally work with metal detectorists because of this sort of legislation and suggest modifying it. Chortling airhead metal detector users in the English-speaking world however cannot strain their search-engine-using mouse-clicking fingers too much or read more than eight sentences at a time, so they prefer to remain permanently ignorant. Then they can play the victim when somebody points out they are exhibiting minimal intelligence in what they say about their hobby and its contexts. They like that, it's an undemanding role to play ("we are painted with an extremely broad brush as bad guys by those in the ‘holier than thou’ enemy camp"). It helps foster the them-us division which increase the "hobby solidarity" within which so many of them seem to find comfort and a personal identity.
and other office employees in 2011 gave permission to third parties to dig in locations near the town of Delcevo and along the road from Skopje to Veles". The reports of the case indicate that he has been convicted of issuing artefact hunters with excavation permits, allowing them to dig openly. The point is that Macedonian law does not have the possibility for him to do that, he has therefore been declared guilty by a court of an illegal activity and has been sentenced to three years in prison. For being "guilty of aiding a criminal ring to excavate and sell off valuable archaeological artifacts". Giving permission for artefact hunting, in the specific Macedonian context, has been adjudged "misuse of office".
I would have thought that metal detectorists capable of thinking would have adopted a somewhat different attitude to the jailing of an (old and sick - to boot) archaeologist whose crime was giving permissions to artefact hunters. But no, I cannot see any evidence that thinking metal detectorists will be An archaeologist jailed for helping artefact hunters, ha ha, ROFL eh?"
taking that one up. Instead we see mindless airhead guffawing: "
Vignette: 'Illiterate Britain: One in five adults struggling to read and write' and many take up metal detecting.
UPDATE 28th July 2014:
Despite the pointer given above that actually reading some primary sources might help understand matters a bit better than the stereotypical archie-bashing flabberjaw that in the world of airhead detecting passes for 'informed comment', we still find that the slow on the uptake have problems unentangling the written word. One of them has just accused Dr Kuzman of being "fit and well enough to organise a criminal gang of archaeologists and reap the rewards of his ill-gotten gains", despite the fact that the name of the smuggling gang's leader is given in the Macedonian press reports based on court records. I hope when the slandered individual comes out of prison, he deals with the libellous publication of Howland and Stout in a manner appropriate to the accusation.
UPDATE UPDATE 30th July 2014:
If exploring the issue further in English is beyond the cognitive capacities of metal detectorists intent on archie-bashing, then it's no use pointing them to a text written in French, I guess. For the rest of us, there is a text which gives some additional information about the case (Daniela Veljanovska, 'Trafic d’antiquités en Macédoine : trois ans de prison pour Pasko Kuzman', Le Courrier des Balkans (from Dnevnik - translated by Jaklina Naumovski)). The first concerns the nature of the permits Kuzman issued:
L’accusation reposait sur des autorisations qu’aurait signé le directeur pour permettre à des « chercheurs » d’effectuer des fouilles dans les régions de Katlanovo à Delčevo. Le premier site, Dramski rid, était supposé abrité dans un tunnel une grande quantité d’armes que l’armée allemande aurait abandonné durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le second site, à Katlanovo, était supposé abriter de l’or, [Nazi gold too?] pour une valeur de plusieurs millions d’euros. L’archéologue aurait outrepassé ses pouvoirs et permis des fouilles illégales avec l’espoir de découvrir un nouveau « trésor ».The newspaper also reflects on the possible political background to the conviction of Kuzman:
Pasko Kuzman, personnage clé du projet Skopje 2014, fut soutenu et protégé pendant des années par le gouvernement conservateur du VMRO-DPMNE, mais il s’est retrouvé face à ses accusations, lâché par celles et ceux qui lui avaient donné carte blanche pour effectuer toutes les fouilles et mener tous les projets en rapport avec le patrimoine culturel du pays. Cependant, ses dernières prises de positions et critiques ouvertes contre le projet de « Las Vegas » à Ohrid, par l’investisseur indien Subrata Roy, ont-elles joué dans la balance de ce jugement ? La question reste sans réponse, mais le mutisme de la ministre de la Culture et d’autres soutiens habituels de l’archéologue incite à la réflexion.
|Kuzman reportedly came into conflict with these two, |
Subrata Roy and the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski
For Mr Roy, see a number of articles in the media, including:
Deana Kjuka, 'Dubai-Style Plans Emerge For Macedonia's Ohrid Area ' Radio Free Europe , 29th November, 2012,
Coilin O'Connor, Macedonian Heritage Site To Face UNESCO Probe', Balkan insight 27th August, 2013,
Sinisa Jakov Marusic, 'Indian Tycoon Throws Lavish Party in Macedonia', Balkan Insight 3rd Oct 13
Prasad Sanyal (ed.) 'Sahara chief Subrata Roy sent to Tihar Jail', 4th March 04, 2014
Xhelal Neziri, 'Macedonia believed Sahara chief was India’s return gift for Mother Teresa' The Indian Express, 21st March, 2014.
'Subrata Roy and his Love for Macedonia – the land of Mother Teresa and Alexander the Great… Where he plans to build Super Luxury Las Vegas…', Viewology, contrarian newzing, 21st March 2014 (with further links to sleaze).