Saturday, 14 March 2015

"I know of no dealer in ancient coins anywhere in the world ...."

California dealer in dugup antiquities, in the business since December 2003 declares:
I know of no dealer in ancient coins anywhere in the world who conducts his business in the manner you are deceptively attempting to present as being ethically required.
I suppose the question is whether or not it is "deceptive" to suggest that dealers should be paying attention to where, how and when the objects they sell were dug up in order to claim the label "ethical and responsible". I would suggest that most of my readers will consider it a matter of simple logic, rather than deception. Neither is it "propaganda" to ask these questions, nor "archaeology as ideology" as Welsh depicts it. It is instead a matter of maintaining hygiene on the market and in collections. CPAC-commentator Jordan Montgomery is unable to answer the question where his coins came from and whether or not they were looted, but likes to imagine that they are not. I say a big step to legitimise antiquities collecting and numismatics is to replace the wishful fantasy with hard facts. This is the underlying message of course of the PAS, none of the data on the mega-million database are any use at all without the basic one- findspot and information about context of discovery (grounding).

In any case, what is responsible antiquities collecting and dealing? What is "best practice"?  Do the antiquities dealers associations' Codes of Ethics/Practice go far enough? Do any individual dealers stand out by going the extra mile in provenance research for the artefacts they acquire and providing the information to potential customers?

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