Tuesday, 12 August 2014

"Standard Operating Procedure" for Anti-Preservationists?

Cultural Property "Observer" - Peter Tompa's Swamp of Hate
(Somasim games)
I'm getting really fed up with this. Peter Tompa announced several weeks ago he will no longer publish my responses and comments on his blog, and then, when I cannot respond there, proceeds to use it as a vehicle for attacking me. He has been doing this through his use of the Arthur Houghton sock-puppet device, publishing the nastiest possible comments from metal detectorists John Howland and Dick Stout, and finally devoting whole texts to suppositions about what I  allegedly 'believe' or 'support', all the time knowingly publishing distortions of the true facts while denying me the right of reply. This is of course the typical collectors' tactic. Tompa's snide ad personam attentions also have turned in recent weeks to attacks on professor Nathan Elkins and other figures. Five days ago he insinuated that DA Matthew Bogdanos had 'shafted' New York taxpayers because he's a Greek American. When he's not attacking people for expressing their views on the preservation of the archaeological heritage, he turns to his constant attempts to demonize archaeologists and the tenets of conservation in general. The other topic of his nasty slimepit of a blog is a series of weasel-worded xenophobic attacks on any antiquity source-country that has asked the US authorities for help in fighting the no-questions-asked trading of its cultural property through the items. His view-from-Washington depicts whole countries in the blackest possible terms, unequal partners to what he clearly sees as the Holy American Empire. He's particularly got it in for China, Greece, Italy and the US-supported so-called "Egyptian military dictatorship".

Last night he had another go at the "Egyptian military dictatorship" for themselves not having "studied" the vast amount of material in Cairo Museum removed by 1922-36 British excavations from KV62 - the tomb of Tutankhamun (using that to then attack the notions fundamental to the 1970 UNESCO Convention). I pointed out, I thought relatively clearly and succinctly, the main reason why "the Egyptians" had not undertaken the task of writing up these excavations for the excavators is that the archive is in the UK, out of Egyptian hands, and that one would have expected some simple fact-checking to precede such an attack from a representative of two antiquity dealing professional bodies.

Most normal people would, I would have thought, apologised for their error and maybe modified the original text. Not Peter Tompa. The representative of the International Association of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists Guild blunders on into his swamp of insinuation with a second post. I am not going to dignify his nasty mud-slinging by a reply. If the AIA are not much interested in addressing the mindless anti-archaeological crap produced by their countryman then I don't see why I should. Not to mention that Tompa (if he's not actually going to talk to archaeologists on the topic because he hates them), can probably find a book or two even in Tenleytown which informs the reader on archaeological standard operating procedure. Tompa's text is not so much a diagnosis of the current state of archaeology (a subject he demonstrably knows next to nothing about) which results from careful observation and weighing of the evidence but is a provocation intended purely to annoy. Here he is in good company with his idols Stout and Howland whose avowed aim is to spend their time "pissing everybody off".

In the case to which he refers, Tompa seems oblivious to the problems involved in the publication of material from complex research projects when the excavator dies (March 1939) just after finishing the first stage of work following the earlier death of the sponsor. (George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon himself died as everyone except Peter Tompa perhaps knows in 1923, just after the opening of the tomb.)

Why does Peter Tompa not get around to providing some real cultural property issues observations rather than prostituting himself to the perceived commercial interests of opposing at every step preservationist and anti-smuggling measures in such a nauseating manner, publicly dragging antiquity collectors, antiquity dealers and his entire country with him through the mud and slime? Let the IAPN and PNG put a stop to this, right now.

There are huge problems in the current form of the international market, and the US section of it plays a major role in perpetuating the damaging. Much however has changed around it in the past three decades, and discussion is urgently needed how to afford sustainable collecting taking the conservation needs of the archaeological resource into account. Through their continued financial support of the employment of these tactics, and their support of the ACCG, the International Association of Professional Numismatists and the Professional Numismatists Guild are deliberately stalling the process of cleaning up their corner of the antiquities market, and should be roundly and universally condemned for that.  

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