Sunday, 8 November 2015

The "Rescue" Argument has 19th century origins

We all know how keenly dealers and collectors all claim to a man that the looting of artefacts does not lead to destruction of history, but is a form of rescue. Jean François Champollion (1790-1832) recorded texts and scenes at Thebes. His activities in Thebes were not entirely benign, however. He also worked to cut pieces of wall decoration from the tomb of Seti I (KV 17) and have them installed in the Louvre. In reply to a complaint from Joseph Bonomi, Champollion wrote:
“ day you will have the pleasure of seeing some of the beautiful bas-reliefs of the tomb of Osirei [Seti I] in the French Museum. That will be the only way of saving them from imminent destruction and in carrying out this project I shall be acting as a real lover of antiquity, since I shall be taking them away only to preserve and not to sell.”
Today the site of the Valley of the Kings is on the World Heritage list and the tomb of Seti together with it.

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