These feet seem to ring a bell.
Vernon Silver, 'The Apollo of Gaza: Hamas's Ancient Bronze Statue', Bloomsburg's Business week, January 30, 2014
A blog commenting on various aspects of the private collecting and trade in archaeological artefacts today and their effect on the archaeological record.
|Relief with a hole, a hole caused by looters and collectors|
Thomas Bauzou, a professor of ancient history at France’s Université d’Orléans [...] corresponded with the Gaza Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, using photographs to assess the bronze. “This statue is a major discovery,” he wrote in a Sept. 23 letter [...] Bauzou concluded from his research that the statue dated from between the 5th century B.C. and 2nd century A.D.The statue already seems to be breaking out in bronze disease (chloride corrosion) and urgently needs specialist care. The problem with this is:
Gaza is governed by Hamas, the Islamist movement considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union. [...] Any purchase of the bronze from Hamas by a U.S. or European museum or collector would risk violating sanctions against financing terrorism. [...] In the hands of the Hamas government, the bronze is worth more than just money. The most valuable reward would be recognition of any kind by U.S. or European institutions and governments. Even the slightest cooperation, say, over restoration, sale, or loan of the statue, could open the diplomatic door a crack. “This case is fiendishly difficult,” says Sam Hardy, a British archaeologist whose Conflict Antiquities website tracks the use of looted artifacts to fund war. “National and international laws make it difficult to assist the administration in the West Bank, let alone that in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, any sale or leasing of the statue might normalize looting of antiquities as a funding stream for Hamas.” [...]
Neither Humbert nor Bauzou believes Ghurab discovered the bronze underwater. “It does not come from the sea. It’s obvious,” Bauzou says. The giveaway, they say, is the lack of any sea encrustation or damage from hundreds of years underwater. Instead, they suspect the bronze came from a clandestine excavation somewhere on land. “This story has been fabricated to hide the real place where the statue was found so they can continue digging.” In the antiquities racket, which is riddled with scams and fakes, crazier things have happened. In this case, if it turned out the bronze came from, say, a pilfered temple complex, it would be much more toxic for museums than a chance underwater find. [...] It’s possible the fisherman’s story is an elaborate hoax. It is true the Apollo isn’t encrusted with barnacles, but not all submerged bronzes get crusty [...] the Riace bronzes from 1972 appear to have come ashore with skin as smooth as that of the Gaza bronze.See also:
A tribunal in Romania has suspended a key archeological discharge certificate (ADC) of Gabriel Resources – a Canadian miner - for the exploitation of gold and silver at Rosia Montana’s Mount Carnic [...] Mount Carnic has some of the oldest Roman gold mine galleries in the world, and is being called for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by campaign groups. ADCs are required by European law for various parts of the proposed mine to ensure that historical artifacts will be protected.
Egypt’s minister of antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, said on Friday that 74 precious artifacts had been destroyed and that 90 were damaged, but repairable. The museum had nearly 1,471 artifacts on display in 25 galleries and 96,000 objects in storage. Situated near Islamic Cairo, the museum building, with its impressive neo-Mameluke facade, had recently undergone a six-year, $10 million renovation. The complex includes Egypt’s National Library on the second floor, where several rare manuscripts and papyri were also damaged.
The Egyptian Embassy in Washington has reached an agreement with eBay, a leading online auction wbsite, to suspend selling Egyptian archaeological pieces in its internet auctions. Egyptian Ambassador to the US Mohamed Tawfiq said eBay company officials have expressed preparedness to cooperate with the Egyptian government since starting talks in this respect in October 2013.Source: 'Egyptian embassy in US, eBay agree to suspend selling antiquities', The Cairo Post, Jan. 29, 2014
He noted that several US associations, like Capitol Archaeological Institute, are ready to cooperate with the Egyptian government to buoy up its efforts to prevent stealing, smuggling and selling of Egyptian antiquities.
These efforts coincide with the embassy’s arrangement for a visit by Egyptian Minister of Antiquities to the US for talks on cooperation in curbing Egyptian antiquities smuggling and renovating some Egyptian archaeological sites, he added.
"made a (sufficiently clear) proviso that the sold sculptures might not be authentic [...] [and] had failed to disclose the reasons to doubt the authenticity. Given the seller's knowledge of the provenance of the sculptures, the seller should have known that there was a significant chance that the sculptures were not "the real deal". In short, seller should have provided more clarity on the level of certainty of the authenticity. [...] Whether the seller issued a warranty of authenticity is irrelevant: he should have observed more clarity and transparency.
When in doubt, selling galleries are well advised to disclose the risk of non-authenticity (and to adequately record that disclosure). Buyers of art can take heed as well: it took this collector six years to learn that he was entitled to a refund. An important disputed fact was whether the seller had made firm statements on the authenticity of the sculptures. From witness testimonies it became apparent that this particular collector felt it was generally "not done" to outright inquire about authenticity with a professional seller. In the next art sales transaction, as this case about the sculptures shows, buyers may want to consider not shying away from the (important) questions: "is it genuine" and "how do you know it's genuine"? And, better yet, getting something on paper to this end.What about adding "and of licit origin" to whether it is fake or not?
This story was reported like that in The Archaeology News Network, 29th January 2014, confusing many people.
Police on Tuesday arrested a 34-year-old man as he was trying to abscond with artifacts from Capo Colonna Archaeological Park near Crotone, a port city facing towards Greece in the southern Calabria region. The would-be robber, who was identified by the initials I.F., was caught by a metal detector (sic) as he attempted to leave the 30,000-square-meter-park on a promontory overlooking the Tarentine Gulf with his loot.
L'uomo ripreso in azione agli scavi
di Capo Colonnan
Usava un metal detector di ultima generazione per indivuare sottoterra i reperti dell'antica Crotone ma i militari del Nucleo di tutela del patrimonio di Cosenza assieme ai colleghi della compagnia di Crotone lo hanno preso proprio mentre cercava nuovo frammenti di storia [...] l’arrestato è stato notato accedere a bordo di un autoveicolo all’interno dell’insediamento archeologico e colto in flagranza di reato mentre si impossessava di svariati reperti, recuperati grazie all’ausilio di un metal detector di ultima generazione. Le successive investigazioni e perquisizioni domiciliari hanno consentito di acquisire ulteriori elementi a carico di un altro giovane incensurato di Isola Capo Rizzuto. I reati per i quali si procede sono violazione in materia di ricerche archeologiche, impossessamento illecito di beni culturali e danneggiamento aggravato.
|from BM Twitter feed|
probably came from Egypt and perhaps from Oxyrynchus, but its provenance may never be known. A thriving black market for papyri means that many of them emerge not from archaeological digs but from souks, bazaars and antiquities shops. [...] the owner of an ancient papyrus, dating to the 3rd century A.D., consulted an Oxford classicist, Dirk Obbink, about the Greek writing on the tattered scrap. Dr. Obbink [...] quickly realized the importance of what the papyrus contained and asked its owner for permission to publish it. His article, which includes a transcription of the fragmentary poems, will appear in a scholarly journal this spring, but an on-line version has already been released.There is nothing, not a word, in the draft article for Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik to indicate that the author (from Christ Church College) thought for a moment about when and how the item he is discussing left the source country, let alone anything (not a single word) to indicate that it has been out of the ground and out of the source country any length of time. Indeed, quite the opposite, the author describes (page 2 of his text) it as "a newly uncovered papyrus". Dr Obbink notes that the fragment he discusses was in the same handwriting as something called "P. GC. inv. 105", but what that piece of papyrological jargon means for the context of discovery I could not say. The scholar reckons it is the sixth poem to be found from the output of Sappho. The collector is unnamed, but his purchase of a ripped up bit of history has just increased in financial value many-fold by virtue of Dr Obbink's publication and publicity. I am sure he beamed broadly as he warmly shook the academic's hand when he got "his" ripped up bit of papyrus back. Now Dr Obbink, wash your hands.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme Central Unit is conducting a survey to help us understand our audiences and their interaction with the PAS and database a bit better. This will be very helpful in developing the PASt Explorers project to expand our volunteer base and reach new audiences, for which we are currently seeking funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund [...].And the response on a metal detecting forum near you says everything about both the motivation and the end result of those taking part in the PAS survey. Liamnolan (Re: PAS Survey, Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:42 pm) writes (my emphasis, smiley omitted):
Lets not get sidetracked, this topic is about completing the survey. Discussion on the service delivery [sic!!] of the PAS staff can be carried on within the General Chat section [...].Member "Dirt-fishing" (Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:51 pm) agrees:
Well said... Lets get this survey filled in and all show our interest in the success of the PAS...!Except all the evidence from the forums indicates that the dullards don't quite seem to have got it that this is not what this survey is about.
Was the helmet found where it is claimed? The article comments, 'Unsubstantiated rumours speculated that perhaps the artefact had been found elsewhere, maybe even overseas, and that a faux findspot in the Hadrian's Wall hinterland was a way to secure a provenance'. So what is the evidence that the helmet was found in a hole near Crosby Garrett? "Minerva Heritage Ltd opened a small trench on the spot, which revealed that any cut made when the helmet was deposited had been destroyed when it was dug up in 2010". In other words, the metal-detectorists obliterated any archaeology that could have been there, and there is no compelling evidence that the helmet was found at this spot. Interestingly Noon suggests that the depth of soil, some 50 cm, was 'not sure the volume of soil would be enough' to have crushed the helmet in the way that it was presented. So, again, was it found here?See also my text on the subject: "Crosby Garrett Helmet Findspot", Tuesday, 12 November 2013 [note who I cite there and compare that with the authorship of the recent article]. A question Gill does not ask is why, when the collapsed thin corroded metal sheet was buried half a metre down in pasture, it produced a signal at all. The excavations show that right next to the helmet findspot, more shallowly-buried coins were not detected and hoiked. What machine on what settings do the still-anonymous finders claim to have been using? What were the ground conditions when it was found? Metal detectorists delight in telling us all that their machines cannot go down that far and their hoiking is only from "six to eight inches" (15-21 cm). Here either somebody is not telling the truth, or these claims are in fact nonsense.
|National Museum courtyard|
there is a lot of cultural property in Polish museums that does not belong there [...] and should [...] be send (sic) back. [...] Next come the private collections of looted objects. He [Paul Barford, apparently] should give us a list. We can then decide how to act.Now I do not know how many times Arthur Houghton has been in Poland, and what he did when he was here. I suspect it was not visit our museums. It is wholly unclear therefore where he gets his "information" from. Once again though (" We can then decide how to act") we see that disagreeable characteristic of Washington to see itself as the policeman of the world, able to boss around the other nations and submit them to Washington's will. In reality, these people really have a very distorted view of the rest of the world, including Europe.
Could this be,one wonders,the same mysterious and hush-hush Unit referred to by Mr Barford that beavered away close to where Allied servicemen slaved,starved and died building the infamous Burma Railway* - not to rescue them, but to rescue certain Burmese temples of certain 'trinkets'.Well, obviously not because the Monuments Men operated in Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and (western) Germany not Burma, and the the Burma Railway was finished in 1943 and nobody was discussing Burmese temple ornaments. I fail to see the connection. This is typical metal detectorist logical non sequitur, apparently more ad hominem provocation rather than any serious attempt to add something to the discussion of the topic under consideration.
The vast majority of items recorded by the PAS from this period is not just brooches, but worn items of all varieties. There’s a good reason for this – most of this material comes from disturbed graves. What we’re mostly looking at here are ploughed-out mortuary assemblages minus nearly all the ironwork and ceramics, obviously not recovered by metal detectorists looking for decorative metalwork.That's quite an interesting observation, because Helen Geake in her Cambridge seminar apparently (pers. comm. in litt.) said that the reason the PAS data dated to the broader Early Medieval period differed from the excavated material is because there is a "higher proportion of accidental losses, which are incredibly difficult to recover any other way". So one interpretation is that certain Early Medieval finds consist of accidental losses accidentally found by lucky searchers, the other that certain Early Medieval finds come from selective gathering from disturbed stratified contexts. Of course not insignificant is that there are published gazetteers of Anglo-Saxon cemetery sites (some are also indicated 'X-marks the spot' on old OS maps). To what extent are these finds coming from burial grounds targeted as potential productive sites by artefact hunters eager to do a bit of grave-robbing?
Jean-David Desforges, head of the French association Stop the Pillage of Archaeological and Historical Heritage, told a conference that many objects from ancient Gaul, and Nazi artefacts from World War II were illegally dug up and sold by thousands of prospectors using metal detectors. "In the past few years, the illegal sale of objects has exploded on the internet," he said, despite legislation that stipulates that buried heritage is protected."Now, if only they had a PAS" one can almost hear a certain lobby gearing up to say... It is one of their silly thoughtless mantras.
I assume it was sold in order to give the landowners a share of the value. Much as I am in favour of donating finds like this, few detector users are wealthy enough to be able to fork out half of its value.Spot the error in logic. The coin and its full value belong to the LANDOWNER. The coin does not need to be sold to give the landowner what belongs to him. It is not up to the finder to give the owner half the value of what is already his by the laws of the land. In reality objects like this are sold to give 'half the money' to the artefact hunter (metal detectorist). You know, those people who say they are "not-in-it-fer-the-money, just-the-histry" but then make the farmers sign agreements obliging them to give all away their property to (and split its value fifty-fifty with) a guest on their land.
...with a copy of "the Searcher" turned to the "Identification and valuation desk" and "Saleroom scene" pages no doubt. Maybe the petitioning detectorist routinely leaves a copy with him to look over, so the landowner can see how much the average non-treasure find (buckle, fibula or average piece of grot) is valued there as being worth. I've got one open in front of me now, mundane objects, not coins: 30 quid, 120 quid, 120-150 quid, 45 quid, 90 quid, 70 quid, 20 quid, 40-50 quid, it all adds up.It is strange, is it not, that in the typical "finds agreement templates" published on many UK artefact hunting forums and websites, it is precisely these issues which are omitted.
How many farmers, countrywide are appraised of this sort of information BEFORE they sign that agreement? How many are appraised of that information (honestly) each time they agree to sign over yet another day's haul of bits and pieces from his fields?
Even if the detectorist himself does not sell the many accumulated bits, his heirs probably will, and if the finds are kept loose with no labels who gave permission to take them from where, that money will never get back to the landowner (or their heirs). And it should, shouldn't it?
one should be disturbed by the fact that some of the most important artifacts in the Near East rest in Syria, which is convulsed by civil war, and are at risk of being looted and destroyed or sold onward to rapacious markets in the Gulf or China.He apparently thinks some of them belong in America:
Of particular concern is are the incredibly important paintings of the great Synagogue of Dura Europos, which when I last saw them had a room of their own in the depths of the Damascus Museum. I must tell you, I have discovered some interest in a possible NATO action to rescue these. It would take a very fast operation with limited forces and the technical ability to remove them from the walls, package them properly and then take them out, but I understand this capability exists. Perhaps this is a subject for another, quiet verbal discussion, but I did not want you to lose hope that nothing can be done.Yes, in this collectors' fantasy world, US cultural property buffs will get into a nice warm Washingtonian huddle and chat about how they are going to send in their brave boys to remove these items by force from the source country to avoid some foreign rebels selling them to the Yellows or Eyerabs. I guess they'd also have to decide what to do if any official of the Syrian Ministry of Antiquities or a member of the Museum's staff tries to stop them. Head shot perhaps?
would you rather it be stuffed in the back of a museum storage room with 90% of the other coins and artifacts (sic) that museum's (sic) have ?That's not an argument one would expect to hear from the "only want to add to our nation's history (not in it fer the munny)" brigade. That's a favourite coiney anti-academism argument.
Now we all hear FLO's say they are overworked, it's a stock phrase as they wipe the perspiration from their brows when we meet them. Many of us will have seen from the published stats in the annual PAS Report that some FLO's actually record very little and so we now have confirmation that FLO's average 1000 finds recorded per year which divided by 52 weeks in the year means that the average FLO is overworked processing 19.2 finds per week....Vignette: What do FLOs do in their "spare" time?
identifying and targeting both money laundering and terror financing that is entangled within the legitimate cultural property trade should also involve a fresh look at federal AML/CTFs, and maybe some changes.
English Heritage's guidance on "responding to heritagecrime in progress" is not a lot of use when you see some blokes walking up and down with shadowy metal-detector-like tools on an archaeological site in the middle of a field at dusk. They might be nighthawks, or they might be there with a letter of permission. That's in Bonkers Britain, outside it there is often far less ambiguity.Admittedly some of the sentences are more than eight words long. Nevertheless, it is with some surprise that over on a detectorist's blog near you (i - Go Detecting, Wednesday, 22 January 2014), we read the astonishing claim:
"The author of the original post tries to paint a shady, sinister and dishonest picture of all detectorists"Can anyone else see here what he's getting at? Where is this "shady"? Where is it "sinister"? And for goodness sake where is the "deceit"? It seems to me we have a case here of a reader unjustifiably replacing with an alleged hidden intent the real meaning of the actual words used.