Sam Hardy was interviewed by the New York Times and the journalist edited his comments on the degree of evidence about what's happening to antiquities in war zones in a way with which I assume he was less than happy. He has now responded in more detail ('The lure of antiquities in the New York Times and the trap of poor evidence in war zones'). He poses some questions for dealers and collectors:
Do you feel lucky? - To protect themselves as much as anyone else, dealers and collectors should ask themselves: am I complicit, or being made complicit, in a crime that perpetuates poverty and corruption, undermines shared life, ravages the vulnerable communities whose culture I believe I am preserving and valorising? When the antiquities come from places that have suffered violence, that question becomes acute: am I funding war-making, communal cleansing or genocide? Sellers may try to reassure buyers by dismissing any concern about a lack of papers, but buyers should ponder: when there is such a long paper trail for the licensed antiquities trade, when traders have financial as well as ethical incentives to preserve that paper trail, why is it so often missing? Just how many files can be lost in floods?He points out that certain reports are poorly evidenced, but the reliable evidence about where some antiquities are coming from and the fate of the funds raised from their sale is worrying" enough. On discussing contradictory evidence, he concludes:
Something is not right. Should dealers and collectors be reassured by the unreliability of these contradictory claims? Would they be reassured if they found out that they had funded the Islamic State through its taxation of sales of antiquities, instead of through its sale of antiquities? Would they be reassured if they found out that they had funded the al-Nusra Front instead of the Islamic State, or the Assad regime instead of the Islamic State?