Sunday, 25 January 2015

Legal Aspects of Disposal of Privately Owned Antiquities: Mummy Mask Trashing in the News Again

Evangelist Josh McDowell features in a shortened version (edited for critical purposes from a longer presentation in the public domain by Beau Quilter), of an online presentation discussed here earlier in a video discussed by Roberta Mazza: 'Destroying mummy masks: “Since we own, it’s ok”. Maybe not… ', Faces and Voices January 25, 2015.

The message “since they own it, it’s ok" belies two important features says Mazza:
First, the incredible lack of any awareness about the importance of archaeological evidence that this man and others, like Scott Carroll (who apparently dismounted mummy cartonnage for the Green collection and possibly others in the past), demonstrate. The aggressive cultural discourse behind their words and actions would deserve a treatise on its own. People like Josh McDowell and Scott Carroll are a threat not only for the damage they pose to cultural heritage patrimony, but also for their misuse of ancient manuscripts in public discourse on the Bible.
The second point is in the defiance concerning ownership of the objects they are so badly mistreating, which Roberta Mazza points out "opens a number of interesting considerations on responsible and irresponsible private collecting that would deserve a longer, separate post". She points out that - however unpalatable - that argument can only apply when that ownership is legal:
if it comes out that the object was bought illegally, in this case that the mask does not have clear provenance, everything changes. In principle, the legal owner of these destroyed masks could pursue McDowell and other iconoclasts, and the dealers who sold the objects, in order to be compensate for the loss. Why do Josh McDowell and other owners of antiquities not reveal the names of the dealers they have purchased masks and other cartonnage from, and do not publicly provide documents proving that their acquisitions are legal? Do they fear that the eventual legal owner of those artefacts (e.g. the Egyptian Government) will pursue them in court one day?

1 comment:

Beau said...

James McGrath has made a few additional comments on this video, and shared a (not) comic video by Craig Evans trying to parody his own investigation of mummy masks:

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