Saturday, 25 October 2014

SLAM and Museum Ethics

An archaeological mystery. In 'The Curator, the Fax and the Mummy Mask' (Looting matters Friday, October 24, 2014) David Gill reveals that he has ascertained a number of disturbing facts concerning the Ka Nefer Nefer mask from Sakkara once it had been purchased. It seems just a few months after the mask with  the name erased from the hand arrived in the museum, "a distinguished Egyptologist from a major international museum faxed a member of the curatorial team at SLAM drawing attention to the link with Saqqara". It was known by this time that items had been stolen from a store in Sakkara (in fact the very same one that Ka Nefer Nefer was supposed to be housed). Another scholar in the know encouraged SLAM's Directors to contact the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).  How long did it take them to get around to contacting the SCA? That was in 1999 (the Director of the SCA then was Gaballa Ali Gaballa, Hawass's predecessor). What happened when the Directors of the Museum carried out this necessary act of due diligence?
 The leadership team at SLAM will need to explain how they responded to this information. Or did they wait until Zahi Hawass contacted SLAM's director of February 14, 2006?
I have a feeling David Gill knows the answer to those questions. Maybe SLAM would find it more convenient to answer them before he does.

Oh, SLAM and the people of St Louis - Looting matters.

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