Tuesday, 28 October 2014

US Archaeologists Selling Finds: AIA in St. Louis Places MORE Ancient Artefacts on the Auction Block

The AIA regional branch in St. Louis again places ancient artefacts from its collection in trust on the auction block to raise funds ('Archaeological Society in St. Louis Places Ancient Artifacts on the Auction Block', Popular Archaeology Oct 28, 2014).
Snubbing its nose at long-held ethical standards established by the U.S. archaeological community, the St Louis Chapter of the Archaeological Society of America has placed entrusted Mesoamerican and Egyptian artifacts for sale on the antiquities market. Recently consigned for sale at the Bonhams Auction House in London, the artifacts included [...]  a Maya effigy vase from the ancient site of Quirigua, Guatemala, and a Zapotec seated figural urn from the ancient site of Monte Albán, Mexico. [...]  It is reported that the Governing Board of the St. Louis Chapter, a chartered society of the AIA but independently operated as a separately incorporated non-profit organization, made the decision to place the artifacts up for sale without the support or consent of the membership.
Donna Yates has a discussion of the two Pre-columbian pieces on her Anonymous Swiss Collector blog ('Archaeological Institute of America St. Louis Society selling Meosamerican antiquities at auction', 27 October 2014). She lists the two pieces concerned as: "a Maya Effigy Vase from the spectacular site of Quiriguá, Guatemala (Lot 156, est. US$ 6,000–8,000) and a Zapotec Figural Urn from the site of Monte Albán, Mexico (Lot 149 US$ 3,000–5,000)".
 These antiquities are a rare case of absolutely legal Mesoamerican objects in the United States. I cannot remember the last time that I saw ‘clean’ Mesoamerican antiquities for sale. Why? Because nearly all of the Mesoamerican pieces collected before their countries of origin enacted legislation against said practice were done in such a way that they entered public collections. Public collections rarely sell their pieces. We’ve hit on the problem.
More here as well as an update on the excavator of one of the pieces, an 'archaeological god' according to Yates.

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