Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Roberta Mazza on Papyri, Collectors and the Antiquities Market:

Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester), 'Papyri, Collectors and the Antiquities Market: a Survey and Some questions', Amelia 24th June 2014.
Western papyrologists, scholars and pseudo - scholars are destroying mummy masks and panels for reasons that are in fact not dissimilar: the Green family, Scott Carroll, and Josh McDowell declare on their websites, through interviews and YouTube videos, that their search for papyri from mummy cartonnage is dictated by the wish to retrieve biblical manuscripts, and through them the word of God [...]  I have already explained elsewhere that so far there are no New Testament papyri coming from that source: where does all this focus on mummy cartonnage come from then? Is this just rhetoric? And if so, what kind of reality lies behind it? University papyrologists collaborating with them are moved sometimes by the same  desire , and more often by a wider  cultural attitude according to which Sappho, Homer and written culture in general is more valuable than any other material evidence. They even dare to impose this attitude onto others, since they, like the Taliban, are destroying world heritage patrimony in the name of their own cultural values. To sum up: We are still acting as though living in the colonial, Victorian past, or to rephrase the title of a famous book of Bruno Latour “we’ve never been post - colonial”, which makes me unhappy, and on so many levels
As for the focus on destroying mummy masks, I tentatively suggested one possible reason  (PACHI Monday, 12 May 2014, 'They Dissolve Antiquities Don't They?')... could it be....? Surely not. Such good Christian men.

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