Tuesday, 2 September 2014

What Planet are Collectors on?

If you were a find-gobbling collector, you'd see the world in different colours, white and black. You would not have to ask questions, exercise critical thought, just accept what your peers tell you to believe and shrug your shoulders at the rest. One of their little leitmotifs is that archaeologists are not (really) concerned about them trashing sites all over the world to fuel the nasty little businesses of dodgy dealers. They are sure the problem lies elsewhere. According to their feeble intellects, archaeologists' opposition to the current no-questions-asked mode of business is not due to concern about the damage done by commercial looting. In their opinion, it is entirely due to 'excavation permits'. They reason that if archaeologists do not cowtow to the preservationist policies of the host nation where they want to do research, they'll run the risk of being refused an excavation permit. So it is, they infer, that archaeologists meekly go along with the policies of the host countries. Out of fear.

So we see today on a metal detectorists' and coiney blog another of those comments about excavation permits in the context of allegations about "the link between archaeologists and dictatorial regimes". :
What itinerant Egyptologist for example, is likely to publicly berate Egypt's military regime then hope the military will grant him/her an excavation permit?
Such comments reveal that these muffins have not the foggiest idea how the world works. In the same way that an archaeological permit to work on BLM land does not come directly from Obama's desk in the Oval Office, not Scheduled Monument Consent from the Queen's Red Box from Balmoral, no General in the Egyptian army puts pen to paper to issue an excavation permit. This is done by an official in a regional office of the antiquities services, who is not any part of the 'military', but civil service, like the ones in the US or UK. He may well be himself privately be opposed to the way his country is being governed, have no connections - family, political or otherwise to the armed services. And frankly I think President El- Sisi has far more pressing problems than whether archaeologist Tom Diggalot supports the return of the Ka Nefer Nefer mask and Rosetta Stone to Egypt or not. I personally know many egyptologists who work in Egypt and think the Rosetta Stone might as well stay in the BM, as I am sure there are many in the US who'd be very sad to see SLAM cave in and give Ka Nefer Nefer back to the dealers for a refund.

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

What planet indeed! No archaeologist I know eagerly waits on the side lines for a dictatorship to arise and then switches their excavation activities to that country. We tend to prefer collaborative, smooth, mutually-beneficial excavations. THAT is what ensures repeat field seasons!

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