Sunday, 10 May 2015

Discussions Dugup Dealers Dodge

Swiss Toni
David Gill has a series of posts on his Looting Matters blog ( Discussion of the archaeological ethics surrounding the collecting of antiquities. ) which form a whole. The first follows a brief note about illegal artefact hunting in England, reminding us of the links between artefact collecting and where the items come from (despite the attempts by the dealers' l;lobby to dismiss the idea that there should be a connection). It also reminds us of the thin line between licit artefacts and illicit ones and the issue of defining and verifying classification into these categories (LM Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 'Nighthawking and Hertfordshire'). This is followed by two posts Thursday, May 7. The first is 'The market in antiquities', connected with an academic workshop, and Gill asks: 'Which agencies are best placed to interdict trafficking?'[...] Should it be up to 'source' countries alone? The second post mentions 'Ancient coins, find spots, and import restrictions' and refers to a recent academic publication discussing one of the many fallacies propagated by the antiquities trade about 'where archaeological artefacts come from'.

On Friday, May 8, 2015, Professor Gill turns his attention to 'The market in ancient coins and self-regulation', and poses the question whether 'self-regulation' by artefact dealers and collectors is the way forward in dealing with the specifics of the market for portable antiquities. He notes the recent 'home goal' scored by the antiquities trade in their reaction to the text referred to in the previous post.

Gill argues that a number of factors suggests that this is not feasible. He draws attention to 'the responses of auction-houses or galleries when 'toxic antiquities' are identified'. He then adds the case of 'freshly surfaced ancient coins'. Does the market there do anything (where dealers continue to admit to their stockrooms material which has lost - one way or another - any kind of documentation of licit origins) that could be called 'self-regulation'? He draws attention to the unsavoury role of the International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) in recent events. Instead of working together to increase confidence in the willingness of the dealers to achieve a more responsible and sustainable use of the finite cultural heritage, this group (among others) is spending tens of thousands of pounds of its members' money on supporting lobbying which comprises futile 'legal challenges' and destructive ad hominem attacks on preservationists and activists urging a more accountable and responsible antiquities trade. Professor Gill notes:
If the IAPN does not 'reign in' its paid lobbyist, it could suggest to the academic and policy-making communities that 'self-regulation' does not work in the area of ancient coins. 
I would put it differently, self-regulation manifestly does not work with any area of the trade and collecting of dugup antiquities, in this, the activities of the IAPN, PNG and ACCG show clearly that in this ancient coin collecting is no different from any of the rest.

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