Thursday, 30 April 2015

US Cultural Aid for Iraq


The White House Office of the Press Secretary has released a fact sheet on U.S.-Iraq Cooperation (April 14, 2015) to "demonstrate the expansiveness of this important bilateral relationship". Among the areas covered are:
" Education and Culture: The United States and Iraq strongly support [...] the preservation and promotion of Iraq’s rich cultural heritage, and expansion of educational, cultural, and professional exchanges between our nations.[...] The United States returned to the Government of Iraq numerous items of cultural heritage that had been removed unlawfully from Iraq and seized by Department of Homeland Security agents [..] U.S. funding in support of the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) has provided technical expertise in a variety of preservation areas to Iraqi antiquities specialists from throughout the country. The United States supported major renovations to the galleries, storerooms, laboratories, and climate control systems of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, which has just reopened to the Iraqi public. Through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the State Department has invested nearly $3 million since 2010 in emergency stabilization and conservation of the Ishtar gate and other major structures and artifacts in Babylon.

Over-Staged Attitudes


More PAS-inspired fluffy bunniness
Suzie Thomas in Helsinki has produced a fluff piece about the PAS, it ends appropriately enough with a misprint which neatly sums up the whole artefact hunting facadism of which the PAS is an integral part:
However, the importance of keeping a dialogue with the metal detecting community cannot be over-staged.
for those interested in enthusiastic fluff: Suzie Thomas, 'The Portable Antiquities Scheme in England and Wales' SKAS 1 2014 [the abbreviation seems not to be developed].

To her credit she does mention (p. 34) laundering of finds through false findspot declaration, This I think is a far more serious problem than most supporters of the Scheme give credit for, and it's good to see one of them actually raise this issue for a change.

I'm not so sure about the validity of her second criticism. Suzie Thomas seems to object to the quoting of PAS numbers in sales documentation (also p. 34 - I think this is supposed to be the "criticism" her introduction promises). I do not see it that way. I'd rather that there was some attention paid to where antiquities came from and whence they come onto the market. If we have collecting as a legitimate pastime (and in the UK it seems we do), then let us insist that all is as white as white can be, above board accountability all round. Let's have PAS numbers on antiquities for sale.

UPDATE 3rd May 2015
OK, I was a little hard on it, actually cited it as a source in a bibliography just now as she mentions aspects the ubiquitous and tediously repetitive "Bland" pieces do not - so had to sort out that undeveloped acronym - SKAS stands for Suomen Keskiajan Arkeologian Seura (Finnish: Medieval Archaeological Society of Finland).

Theft in Kathmandu


Elijah Wolfson, 'Theft in Kathmandu: Can Nepal’s Cultural Legacy Be Saved?' Newsweek, 29th April 2015
In the square, centuries-old buildings with ornately carved wood beams, stone statues and gold and silver leafing now sit in various states of disrepair. Pick through any pile of rubble and you are bound to uncover a section of a frieze depicting a Hindu epic or the arm of some god, broken off from its venerable body. Stowing an illicit find in a backpack and walking out would be fairly easy. Though the area teems with the uniformed and armed—Kathmandu police, Nepalese soldiers, search-and-rescue teams from a range of countries—no one is paying much attention to the dozens of people wandering aimlessly among the destruction. [...] The network currently making up Nepal’s cultural guard is very, very loose. The police are there, but protecting debris is, of course, a low priority in a city where the earthquake death toll just passed 5,000 and dead bodies are still being pulled out from fallen buildings. Thousands have been left homeless, and many fear an impending food and water shortage, as well as a sanitation crisis on the horizon that could lead to a public health catastrophe.
and dealer at the other end of the chain? What excuse would they have for handling items like these no-questions-asked?

Vignete: Buddhe head in the trade - this decorative one of polymer.

Irish Metal Detecting Webpage


Frank Jones has an Irish Metal detecting webpage. He writes:
There are many reasons that people start metal detecting. Some because they have retired or just want to improve their health. Maybe you just have a passion for history. There are so many great benefits from the hobby, you will learn more about history, coins, artefacts, farming, soil conditions, and the land than ever before.
Not archaeological artefacts however, just artefacts lost in the past in the soil, you see? There are two photo galleries careful not to show anything that can unequivocally be claimed as an archaeological artefact.

The forum is careful to note, that even though they find exclusively non-archaeological artefacts buried in the soil: "We Do Not Sell Or Trade Our Finds On Ebay". So where do they sell all those duplicate sixpences? Furthermore, "we do not promote, whether by advertising or otherwise, the sale or use of detection devices for the purpose of searching for archaeological objects". Well now, that is exactly what Mr Jones has been doing in his comments on Heritage Action's blog. More hypocrisy from artefact hunters.  

Listen to a metal detector user denying point blank that you can ever find an archaeological artefact with a metal detector:


Metal Detecting Debate posted by "M Der" 9th May 2012


Ron Byrne (AMDAI) Amateur Metal Detectors Association Of Ireland is trying to come over as the mega-anorak, finding great pleasure in digging up tin cans and cleaning up the countryside (heard that before, haven't we?). He claims nobody can understand this kind of metal detecting: "I've been doing this turty years and I've never come across anything of archaeological importance (and if I did I would repart it)" So.... if they never find anything worth recording, why the fuss about setting up a PAS to replace the current reporting system? 

Eamonn Kelly on the other hand has a different view of what artefact hunters do: "they are not going out there looking for bottle tops and tin cans"  (look at the insulting and sarcastic captions that appears on the screen here and then subsequently - "Respect and Trust" eh?). These comments get sillier and sillier (and typically more personal and nastier - metal detectorists) as the film goes on, showing precisely the depth of the lack of understanding by its author of what actually is being said. From 11 minutes, Kelly makes some good points worthy of note. Mr Byrne then jumps in and threatens Kelly with a slander case over something he did not say.  Metal detectorists are not going to get far with their offer to "work with" people if they show they have not the foggiest what it is that work involves (take a look at those captions) and keep reacting in an aggressive fashion to imagined sleights.

What do you think? Artefact hunters or bottletop hunters? Why would one need a PAS for tin can and ring pull searchers?





Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Cultural Cleansing CCP Style


Over in the US, H.R.1493 - Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act is undergoing discussion. It envisages setting up a Department of State committee (separate from the one that implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention) to co-ordinate and promote the activities of the United States for International Cultural Property Protection and establish the Smithsonian as an adjunct to such efforts. Among others, this has got the dealer's lobby group the so-called 'Committee for Cultural Policy', riled, they do not want to see any measures more effective than those imposed by the existing legislation from the 1980s. So they are pestering the House Foreign Relations over it. They say they want to see "legislation that will give priority to preservation of art and artifacts over repatriation" (and of course keep it all in the USA):
Blind application of these remedies may well lead to such miscarriages of justice as the seizure of Jewish [...] religious artifacts from refugees and return of that property to the very instigators of their persecution.
So, they envisage all this stuff being smuggled out of the source countries and into private collections and museums in the USA, leaving the source country museums without. The attitudes of the CCP is nothing more than a disguised form of cultural cleansing masked as a concern for the global (read: "our") heritage. Read their arguments here.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Middle East Conflict Antiquities: The Dealers' Approach


US and European dealers are cynically making much of the ISIL videos showing them provocatively smashing monuments and sites. The newly-formed ADCAEA is an egregious example, militant iconoclasm is the main focus of their social media activity. For each artefact ISIS smashes on camera, many more enter the illicit trade, including 173+ stolen from Mosul Museum to make their trafficking more difficult. 

Nepal Earthquake

“Our history is gone,” a Nepali said
of the centuries-old landmarks toppled in the quake.



As the full scale of Saturday's earthquake becomes clear, we think primarily of those whose lives have been devastated in this horrific manner. The destruction of historical buildings and districts is just one of the effects of this vast human disaster (Thomas Fuller, Chris Buckley ' Earthquake Aftershocks Jolt Nepal as Death Toll Rises Above 3,400' New York Times April 26, 2015). In addition, there will no doubt soon be undocumented broken buddhas and manuscripts surfacing on the market, clandestinely taken from ruined temples and monasteries. I wonder just how long it will be before we see the antiquities dealers (such as the ADCAEA) claiming that by buying them, US collectors living on the San Andreas Fault are "saving them" in the same way as they are currently cynically using ISIL destruction to justify their continued trade in Middle Eastern artefacts.


NCMD-Disapproved programme wins Award


At the British Academy TV Craft Awards (BAFTA) Mackenzie Crook got the 2015 comedy writer award for his series "Detectorists". I expect Baz Thugwit and his mates see that as some kind of a victory for artefact hunters. Let us remember that their cantankerous NCMD refused to take part in producing it.

Vignette: Gormless

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Focus on UK Detecting: "Never Been Bothered by the Law", How to go Nighthawking in Spain,


On a metal detecting forum near you, we see how "law abiding" UK detectorists can be... Forum member KMarsh from NE Derbyshire, S. Yorkshire wrote about his or her artefact hunting escapades in Spain ( Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:30 pm 'Few bits of Gold from recent trip to Spain')
Popped over to one of the Spanish Islands for a few days early April. Found enough Euros for Food and Beer. took the Barrel tumbler to clean em up a bit. Plus these ranging from 9ct to 22ct. 4 silver rings of which 2 were useless after cleaning. Next 2 trips paid for.. All found in the water up to shoulder depth with the Surfmaster Pi. 

Essex's "volunteer FLO" is at it too (alloverover » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:52 pm):
Good going Kmarsh ::g No problems with the detecting over there then mate ? I,m off to Mallorca this year and was wondering. Been to Minorca before and was told it was a bad idea so dont know whether to take a machine or not maybe its just inland its not allowed, any help appreciated
:D ::g
Words fail me. The FLO should be the one advising finders about the law and how it affects them, not being the one who has no idea how to avoid breaking it. Roger, have a word with your people. Member Sinclairuser wrote (Sat Apr 25, 2015 9:12 pm )
I allways [sic] understood spain was a no-no, in fact it lead us to change our holiday plans one year, we were going to Catalonia, but we sacked it when we were advised to leave the detectors at home. we went to somerset instead, twice once in may and again in september for the same cost, we have never been abroad since.
 JamieB advises (Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:30 pm) that [there is a]
Blanket ban on detecting in Spain unless you are VERY lucky to get permission from the government So, um, yeah I wouldn't go posting up your finds everywhere .. Seems like if you are in a quiet little spot you might not get noticed or maybe it doesn't matter on the islands?
 So basically he's saying the law was broken, but it's OK M8 if nobody sees. "Kmarsh" replies (Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:48 pm) that he or she was well aware of the law, but permits:
can easily take 3 months to acquire if ya lucky. We have never applied for one, we also go out of season so its usually Late October and early April when the last and first cheap flights are available. Never go during Peak times as I think you could be in bother, unless you detected very early morning and late evening. Plus the flights and accommodation are far dearer.. Never been bothered by the law..
and then detectorists wonder why other countries do not adopt the British system of doing things. These "law abiding" detectorists cannot be bothered by a law which constrains them from doing what they want, where and when they want. No waiting for "permissions" here, just get out there early in th' morning or at night when nobody's looking, hoik the stuff, destroy half of it in your crude rock tumbler. Who cares eh? No foreign laws are going to spoil these people when they want to enjoy their fun. What kind of "history hunting" is that, what kind of "research" is going on here? Disgusting; these "ambassadors for the hobby" they should be ashamed of themselves.

UPDATE 27th April 2015
Quite coincidentally, David Gill has a post about  'Archaeological looting in Spain', talking of measures adopted to combat archaeological looting of both land and underwater sites, perhaps in order to fight ignorance, UK metal detecting forums need to provide their members with links to articles such as Ignacio Rodríguez Temiño and Antonio Roma Valdés Fighting against the archaeological looting and the illicit trade of antiquities in Spain" for International Journal of Cultural Property 22,1 (2015) 111-30. [Available here].

Vignette: Briton arrested in Spain.


Egypt: More Cheating Dealers Caught Out


Egypt has received over 374 illegal contraband antiques seized on their way to unscrupulous dealers via France and the US. Dealers who continue to trade in undocumented antiquities claiming, like Classical Coins' Dave Welsh, that there is nothing illegal about antiquities with missing documentation, are collectively responsible for the trafficking of illicit antiquities:
Over the past couple of days, Egypt has regained over 240 antiques, which were illegally smuggled to France. Only a day later, another 134 ancient pieces found their way back home from the US, after being illegally sold [...]  The pieces range from jewellery, statues, stone and pottery pots and some coins go back to the Roman and Greek eras.  [...] As for the 134 pieces restored from the US, they included two wooden tombs with statues inside, with coins, wooden sculptures and stone statues. El-Damaty added that Egypt has received over 90 antiques recently from Germany, Denmark and South Africa. 
Note that the coins are being handled by the same smugglers that deal in other antiquities, meaning there can be no numismo-exceptionalism, the trade in dugup ancient coins must be treated in the same way as the trade in any other kind of dugup artefacts. They are both an integral part of the same dirty business.

Source
Nada Deyaa’, 'Egypt receives over 374 illegal contraband antiques from France, US', Daily News Egypt April 26, 2015.

Nevine El-Aref , France returns 240 illegally smuggled artefacts to Egypt Al Ahram Sunday 26 Apr 2015 (with pictures)

Fourkin' Metal Detectorists: Nighthawking at Castlerigg Stone Circle


Criminal artefact hunting in UK
The4kingdiggers aim to amuse with their frenetically jiggly camerawork, ridiculous accents, laddish antics and crudeness. Like most utterly repetitive metal detecting videos, not really worth watching, until the author "finds a stone circle" and calmly announce somebody's been detecting there recently. Not that recently that most of the holes have not almost grown over. How many pasture sites have been nighthawked like this, without anyone even noticing and nobody knowing what was taken by these collectors? This is the other side of artefact hunting that tekkies don't like talking about - yet The4kingdiggers do not seem particularly surprised that a fellow metal detectorist has been up to "something naughty". (They forgot to say on film that they "utterly condemn these people who get th' 'obby a bad name".)

The lack of any mention in the video and notes under it suggests that these detectorists having recognized the traces of illegal artefact hunting activity at a protected site did not  immediately and responsibly go to the proper authorities to report it. Probably they were afraid that if they did, the case would enter the statistics of 'unresolved cases of illegal artefact hunting', to appear in any survey and inform public opinion on the actual scale of this severe problem. And that is the last thing UK metal detectorists want...

Hat tip to Nigel Swift 


UPDATE 27th April 2015

The case was taken up by David Gill (' Metal-detecting at Castlerigg Stone Circle' Monday, April 27, 2015) with a brief discussion and a wonderful photo.  

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Dave Welsh Back on ACCG Board?


It says on his profile:
David was an early supporter of the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, for which he chairs the International Affairs Committee, and has become well known as a collectors’ rights activist.
The degree to which Dealer Dave is "well-known" is a moot point, but the use of the present tense is interesting since as is well-known, he resigned from the Board of the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild (and was replaced by Doris Sayles the wife of the Executive Director, elected in May 2014 and installed August 9, 2014 at the ACCG annual membership meeting at the ANA convention in Rosemont, Illinois.).
Under the bylaws of the organization, the ACCG is governed by a board of seven elected members who serve for a term of four years. Elections are held every two years, with three positions being presented in one cycle and four positions in the alternate cycle. 
It is interesting to note therefore that in the presentation of the ACCG Board of Directors today, Dave Welsh is up there with the other six and no mention whatsoever of the person who was unanimously elected to fill his vacant place just a year ago. Where did Director Doris go? By what procedure was she ousted and an unelected officer replace her?

Why does an unelected officer head the International Affairs Committee? While the status of the ACCG committees is not specified in the bylaws, its functions are detailed in the 'organization' section of the website, it makes interesting reading in light of the fact that it is Dealer Dave who heads it (and apparently is its sole member):
2-5-1. The International Affairs Committee, appointed by and responsible to the Executive Director, compiles and archives information about foreign laws and import/export procedures in source countries. Among these, are actions taken under the British Treasure Trove law (sic). It tracks international events such as UNESCO, Unidroit and similar conventions that have an impact on ancient coin collecting. It identifies and maintains a dialogue with various organizations and government officials in countries outside of the U.S. The committee also serves as a liaison to individual members of the ACCG who live in countries outside of the U.S.  
Perhaps ACCG members, whose money is spent on supporting these committees might interest themselves in the degree to which the "International Affairs" Committee is fulfilling the tasks set it by the ACCG in the manner set out clearly in the blueprint here. In particular that "dialogue". They should note too point 2-0-4.
The Committee Chairperson or Task Force Leader shall keep a written or electronic record or journal of committee activities for purposes of corporate history, committee continuity and Board management. This record shall include details as appropriate from committee meetings, correspondences, expenditures, and other items of potential interest to Guild managers or committee chair successors. The Committee Chairperson shall be responsible for updating that committee's section of any electronic activity log maintained on the Guild web site.
The last entry on that log was made eleven years ago. I would say that log also needs some sort of entries to explain why the unanimous election by members of Doris Sayles has been ignored and Dave Welsh is now shown on the website as being on the board of Directors again little under a year afterwards, despite there not being any record of any extra-ordinary elections.

The ACCG which is such a stickler for attempting ensure that the US Gubn'mint stay within the bounds of law might make more of an effort to show that they themselves respect their own regulations and the principles of transparency and accountability to its members.
 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday Retrospect: UK Metal Detectorists, Mentally a Breed Apart


Needless to say, the threats of a UK metal detectorist in response to somebody trying to look more deeply into the hobby were the usual empty ones: 'UK Metal Detectorists, Mentally a Breed Apart', PACHI Sunday, 17 February 2013. This type of behaviour in the UK detecting community is in my experience endemic the moment one stops patting them on the head and slapping their back, and the constant inability of ambassadors of the hobby like this to display any form of analytical thought casts doubt on the ability of the sort of chip-on-the-shoulder people that take up metal detecting in general to actually be a good source of information about their analysis of the primary data in the field.

UK Metal Detectorist: the PAS is Not Working


Over on John Winter's blog Sock Puppet Steve, apparently answering a criticism by an unnamed "foreign correspondent" of the "Bring the English Disease here Please" video here (link) makes laboured and verbose excuses for the PAS:
i must point out something that the foreign correspondent always forgets – more finds are offered for recording by detectorists than the PAS can ever hope to actually record hence the changes to the management of the Scheme in recent years with limits to recording added to reduce the burden on the FLO’s. It is of course easy to level a charge that many finds are not reported to the PAS simply because it is a fact that many finders are turned away and so having no other mechanism with which to report finds cannot report them. 
So, basically throwing million of pounds at the problem, year after year, England (GDP somewhere around $ 2680 billion dollarshas not come up with a solution to the metal detecting problem, it is still erosive, and detectorists show no signs of slowing their private collecting down to levels the PAS can cope with. What hope then for the Republic of Ireland (GDP 227 billion dollars - one tenth of that of the UK) to run a Scheme equally or more effective if they liberalised artefact hunting?

The rest of Sock Puppet Steve's arguments are the same self-serving crap the metal detectorists trot out time after time, most of it finds no justification when you look into it:
- I would say it is Sock Puppet Steve (who has not even watched the video) who is guilty of not placing the mantras of metal detecting "in their broader context" of the preservation of the archaeological record,

- he pretends that metal detectorists do not search for "productive sites" at all but all find "random casual losses". That is not true. I suggest Sock Puppet takes a look at what artefact hunters do in the wider, global, context,

- the agrichemical and plough damage argument, but although detectorists have been trotting this out since the days of Denison and Dobinson (1995), is it not notable that not a single study has actually confirmed this model? All the "evidence" is anecdotal, and coming from the supporters of metal detecting. But we've been ploughing and fertilising fields for decades, yet the artefacts are still there, and many of them in online databases of all types (PAS, UKDF, eBay and on the forums) are still in pretty good nick - not at all what the alarmist models evoked to justify a hoiking-free-for-all would predict.

- and the scale of development, this begs the question about the real scale of actually usable information obtained by hobby metal detecting on sites subsequently developed whether or not they were subject to development control. Since this argument is being increasingly trotted out, time for the metal detectorists to back this up with a survey and statistics. I suspect that the actual amount of useful information from hoiking on these sites prior to development is not all that great (in how many cases have development control archaeological provisions been based solely on metal detecting data compared to the number when not?), but if they and their supporters want to use that argument, let the tekkies do the footwork and prove that suspicion wrong. See here for one telling case study, admittedly from the US.
 Come on Sock Puppet, put your money where your mouth is. Let's put what you said in its wider context, in the context of that "mainstream archaeology and portable antiquity issues in the UK" you accuse the "certain foreign correspondent" of missing. By the way the latter has a name, unlike some he does not hide under worthless pseudonyms on an old man's little-read metal detecting blog (such as here). 
 
Vignette: Sock Puppet.
 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Campaign For Metal Detecting Change in Irish Republic


Screen shot from video "Please bring
the English Disease to Ireland I:
The PAS in England
"
A wholly tendentious film has just been released by a group called "Green Light For Change" that want to see Irish heritage protection legislation changed to see artefact hunting and collecting made legal. It seems to be led by Liam Nolan. Tellingly, the film concentrates on "The PAS in England" (scil. Norfolk) and involves a number of talking archaeological heads saying what a jolly good thing artefact hunting is and how super we have a PAS partnership with them. All well and good, but:
1) Why is the PAS in Bloomsbury not interviewed saying what a good thing pilfering archaeological sites for metallic collectables is? Would Roger Bland not go on camera to say that?

2) The PAS was not set up so UK laws could allow metal detecting, it is the symptom of bad laws which allow pilfering of sites for collectables - something the laws of all those "other countries without a PAS" attempt to protect sites from. These laws are broken by greedy collectors, just as England and Wales have their illegal artefact hunters - who do not generally contribute to the PAS (and if they do, report false information about where finds came from).

3) Tim Pestell should be aware that the PAS was NOT set up just to record artefact hunters' finds, but finds made by the public in general (I think we have a clue as to the identity of one of the archaeologists mentioned earlier as being involved in trying to get pressure put on Ireland to change its heritage laws). The narrator too gets confused calling the PAS a "government funded scheme that records metal detectorists' finds".

4) No mention is made in the film of the costs of the Scheme, including hidden ones (still less the cost of the fallout from the Treasure Act).

5) In Norfolk, the changes in our knowledge from metal detecting began well before the PAS. Work on Viking finds by Sue Margeson are a case in point.

6) Liam Nolan says he is "standing in a field that has a lot of Roman history"  - translated into plain English that means he's on an archaeological site and he's about to hoik out some artefacts using the crude methods of artefact hunters and collectors (he'll not find many ten thousand year old metal objects).

7) He says he's going to "responsibly extract them from the ground" presumably using the methods displayed by the PAS FLO at neighbouring Lenborough. Frankly, more responsible treatment of an archaeological site than hacking archaeological evidence out of context to be randomly scattered among the ephemeral personal collections of the "detecting buddies" would be leaving it there to be properly studied within that context. That's what is called conservation (it's like not shooting all the rhinos).

8) Nolan says artefacts are in the museum "as a result of the metal detectorists waiving their financial reward (sic) for finding the items out in the field". There is typical tekkie total rejection here of the issue of to whom all of those objects actually belong. The landowners have waived any payment - the finders are incidental.

9) Note that not a single of the hundreds of items shown displayed loose in the trays is shown with anything that looks like a label saying where they came from. They are treated as trophies and not evidence. How many of them are, in fact, in the PAS database, how many are in museums, and how many simply disappeared into scattered private collections. Take the ansate brooches - like the ones shown in the video at 3:31. I did some research on them and wrote a post on them, but nobody is too keen to follow this up and explore tekkie claims and it seems the lessons are slow to be learnt. Metal detecting is primarily about the creation of private collections - a fact the film skips over.Why should Ireland encourage the unregulated private collecting of antiquities in a period when the rest of the world (Britain excepted) is trying to discourage it?

10) It is not true that all the important metal detected finds from East Anglia are in the museums. The Icklingham, Bronzes for example are in a foreign private collection. Despite the claims of an excellent partnership with "responsible detectorists", Norfolk was also a place where illegally-excavated finds from Ireland ended up ('900 looted artefacts recovered in Norfolk' Monday, 20 May 2013, see also 'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Criminal gangs Trafficking Stolen Antiques Between Ireland and Britain' Sunday, 14 July 2013).

11) The latter case illustrates all too well that many metal detectorists are not hunting for history, but things to sell. The Campaign to Bring the English Disease to Ireland forum  says members do not sell artefacts, but they can correct me if I am wrong, but was not one of ther members actually involved in the above-mentioned case?

12) The film equates "learning more about our past" with hoiking decontextualised stuff and putting some of it on the PAS database and some in museums. The PAS was originally set up to convince finders that this was not the case, and context is important for research. From this follows that the most effective way to learn new things about the past is not blind and selective hoiking but methodological investigations of archaeological sites, and you cannot do that if they've previously been ripped apart willy-nilly in the search for collectable and saleable artefacts.
In any case to use a metal detector per se is not against the law in Ireland, to use it without a permit to dig up artefacts to collect and sell is. The whole of section two of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1987  sets this out quite clearly, and below that, the procedure for obtaining a permit and reporting finds thus made. Section 20 and 23 set out the measures for dealing with those not reporting. Since a measure to get chance finds and (both legal and illegal) metal detecting finds reported is already in place in the legislation, instituting a PAS is clearly superfluous. I am sure responsible detectorists everywhere will be joining me in expressing the hope that when it comes to illegal artefact hunting and knowledge theft, the Irish authorities do everything they can to catch and punish those breaking the law.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme was not set up to legitimise metal detecting, it was set up to attempt to mitigate its negative effects by introducing best practice. That has not been achieved as Mr Nolan's targeting of a Roman site to get collectable goodies out for his collection demonstrates. That is not 'best practice' by any measure. Also the degree to which detectorists are failing to report their finds is downplayed (and Norfolk is the exception rather than the rule). The PAS instead of sitting back and letting all their hard work to be used to argue for extending to other countries the destructive activities it was set up to combat  should speak out and protest. Have they the courage to do their colleagues in other countries that favour? 

I look forward to the response of the Irish archaeological community to this film - 'Red Light to Looting' which will compare the effects of the English disease on the sites which are mined for collectables - huge numbers of which are never reported to the PAS - to that of sites mined for collectables in Syria, Iraq or Egypt, Guatemala and the Four Corners area.

Here is the metal detectorist's campaign website. Note they want a phone app to tell them where archaeological sites are "to avoid breaking the law" and what is to prevent them being used by those who want to break the law?


UPDATE 24th April 2015
The narrator of the pro-collecting film extolling the PAS is uncredited. Somebody has pointed out to me that it sounds awfully like Dan Pett's voice (as here, the British Museum's infamous "trolls" presentation) and if so this would suggest Bloomsbury was in fact involved in its production. Listen and see what you think.

UPDATE 25th April 2015
I am not the only one disturbed by the employment of archaeologists Tim Pestell, Andrew Rogerson and Adrian Marsden by the "Bring the English Disease Here" campaign: The Heritage Journal ‏'A shambolic, UK archaeologist-backed call for metal detecting to be legalised in Ireland!' 25th April 2015.
It seems a bit like someone being manoevered into appearing to say “shoplifters don’t come in my shop so it can’t be a problem elsewhere and laws to control it should be ripped up in an adjacent friendly independent country!”


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Repatriation of ‘Operation Mummy’s Curse’ (sic) Artefacts


“Operation Mummy’s Curse” is said by the press release to be "an ongoing five-year investigation by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) targeting an international criminal network that illegally smuggled and imported more than 7,000 cultural items from around the world" (note the "ongoing" - I wonder if it really is). Anyway, some of the illicit artefacts seized from dealers and collectors are going back:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) repatriated dozens of illegally smuggled ancient artifacts to the government of Egypt, including a Greco-Roman style Egyptian sarcophagus, at a ceremony Wednesday at the National Geographic Society in Washington. [...] “Preserving mankind’s cultural heritage is an increasingly difficult challenge in today’s society. To think that some of these treasured artifacts were recovered from garages, exposed to the elements, is unimaginable,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “It is an honor for ICE to investigate these kinds of cases and to assist other countries in preserving their heritage.”
But US dealers and collectors, the people who contribute to the difficulties of preserving the heritage by their business methods, don't see it like that. Going back were a sarcophagus ("recovered from a garage in Brooklyn, New York" on Sept. 8, 2009), some smuggled goods seized in Sept 2010 at  Detroit Metropolitan Airport (a funerary boat model and figurines etc). Coins were also involved, in December 2010 a shipment of 638 ancient coins was stopped, "65 of which are being repatriated to Egypt today". Other antiquities returned include two Middle Kingdom wooden boat models and a series of finely carved limestone reliefs from an Egyptian temple.
“[...] The ongoing investigation has identified a criminal network of smugglers, importers, money launderers, restorers and purchasers who used illegal methods to avoid detection as these items entered the United States. Items and funds were traced back to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Iraq and other nations.[...] To date, Operation Mummy’s Curse has secured four indictments, two convictions, 19 search warrants and 16 seizures totaling approximately $3 million. The agency is also seeking an international fugitive involved in the case.
Now, those 638 coins that were destined for sale, do you reckon they'd have gone on the dealers' website with the description "just arrived from the source countries", or would they have been put up for sale without any information whatsoever about where they come from, or would they be marketed as "from a New York collection" ("New York collection put together in the 1960s and 1970s")? Which do you reckon is the most likely judging from the way coins are marketed today? In other words, shipments like this (the seized ones being, we may SAFEly assume are just the tip of the ICEberg) call into question the collective honesty of the dugup coin industry. Both the dealers indicted in Operation Mummy Curse are sill trading. Where does the material in their stock come from today, and why could they not exploit these sources before they were caught?

Source:
ICE press release "ICE returns ancient artifacts to Egypt at National Geographic Society" 22nd April 2015.

Vignette: Zombie antiquities dealer

Ringpulls through the Ages


In the UK comedy series "Detectorists", a running joke was "Ringpulls through the ages". If you live in a country where the (white) occupation is not much older than beer cans then they are no joke, it seems: "At 50, Ring-Tab Beer Cans Are Now Officially Historic Artifacts".
“It is a phase shift — people need to begin to recognize the artifacts, have a reliable reference, and actually take the time to figure out whether or not the artifacts are a cultural resource.
There's a place here for the metal detecting enthusiast to write that key reference book.

Hat tip Dick Stout's blog

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: My Little Pony


UK Metal detectorist James Balme was caught out trying to present an object he bought as one of his "finds", a "discovery" he'd made. The trouble is what this charity-shop Indiana Jones thought was a "Celtic votive horse" is in fact a chemically-'patinated' modern tourist souvenir as sold at gift shops right across Greece. Instead of being grateful that his error has been pointed out, giving him the chance to save face, the Treasure hunter ploughs right in, claiming he's got (unnamed) "experts" who will testify that this is an "archaic" Bronze Age find and tries to impress with his ability to be rude and obnoxious (metal detectorists, hey).
Paul Barford @PortantIssues - 20 kwi
"Absolutely none of yr business Mr Barford. You are So boring"
What is boring is metal detectorists presenting BOUGHT stuff as their "finds"
It took the wannabe TV presenter a full 24 hours to think up his witty reply:
James Balme @JamesBalme  
yawn. Crawl back in your hole .... 21 kwi 2015, 17:13
and he's back to the charity shops tomorrow, no doubt. Next week, unicorns?
.

America: Difficult to Understand Words


Challenged by dictionary use, "Troyjjefferson" is relieved to find that he is not the only on having difficulty following the complications of the English language. In reply to Dealer Dave's verbal gyrations ("Illicit vs. Illegal", Ancient Coins Sunday, April 19, 2015) he adds
Thanks for discussing the difference between the illegal and illicit gathering of ancient coins. It can be difficult to distinguish between the two in some cases, especially those involving parties and countries that are warring with the United States. By knowing this information, it's possible to collect coins legally, even if the means are illicit.
But then how to call the market a licit one if the commodities it handles are themselves illicit, and why would anyone WANT to buy illicit goods even though that does not seem to disturb Mr Johnson? Whatis meant by Mr J following his comment with a link to a well-known Chicago coin dealer (commercial rival to Mr Welsh)? Are the two of them accusing the other dealer of selling those illict coins?

That ISIL may be considered as "warring with the US" does NOT make the coins smuggled from militant - (or rebel-) held territories of Iraq or Syria any the less illegal. Unless Mr Jefferson is arguing that ISIL territory be recognized as a state.


Monday, 20 April 2015

US Dealer, No Debate


Debate in a number of forums
US coin dealer Dave Welsh is adamant (April 19, 2015):
I don't consider blog posts as being contributions to "the heritage debate." There is no such debate, except perhaps in Mr. Barford's mind, where many other uniquities reside
Mr Welsh apparently regards the heritage as something which is not discussed, and merely there for the US dealer to dictate to the rest of the world what he and he alone is going to do with it. This is quite a common attitude amongst US collectors and dealers ( DOS-2015-0010) who seem unrepentant neo-colonialists to a man.

Nevertheless, the heritage belongs to us all, and whatever wannabe-imperialist American shopkeepers and coin fondlers think, policies on heritage in many countries is a matter for wide public consultation and debate. There is in many civilised countries a lively and informed debate on what the heritage "is" and on many aspects of preservation, and indeed on the commerce in cultural property. Perhaps Temecula, California lags behind the rest of the world in that regard. That does not mean that the debate is not going on in other places, including blogs such as PACHI, Looting matters, Heritage Journal, Conflict AntiquitiesSaving Antiquities for EveryoneThe Punching Bag, Ancient Heritage, Chasing Aphrodite, Cultural Heritage LawyerIt Surfaced Down Under!, Museum Security NetworkTrafficking Culture, Anonymous Swiss CollectorARCAblog, Institute of Art and Law Blog, Plundered Art, etc.

The general public and lawmakers can see the points being made on the side of preservation and can see the poor response from the commercial side. It is all in the public domain and all a matter of public record. I think the tide of wider public opinion is turning against the current no-accountability (no-questions asked) means of trading in dugup antiquities.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Dealer: "We Takes the Stuff we Wants"


It is always worth glancing at Heritage Actions HJ "Snippets". Short, snappy, to the point, not requiring much reading and always making a good point in the heritage debate. The latest talks of the neo-colonialist attitudes of a certain area of the antiquities trade:

Wow! US coin dealer reveals scary attitude!
An American coin dealer has just said something remarkable… “this observer sees great merit in recasting US heritage enforcement policy to refuse import restriction requests from states that do not make a very serious effort to enforce heritage protection laws within their borders.”  Anyone who isn’t one of his customers will have little difficulty in seeing that he’s saying …. if things aren’t protected in a country let me and my colleagues buy that unprotected stuff without having to establish if it’s stolen”. Charming! And bear in mind, Britain is one of those countries that do not make a very serious effort to enforce heritage protection laws (how can it be otherwise when portable antiquities policies are only voluntary and most detectorists don’t co-operate?) so what he’s saying is that he “sees great merit” in him importing British detecting finds on a no-questions-asked basis!  Well there’s a surprise! Not.
UPDATE 21st April 2015
Wow again! The same coin dealer has just announced to the world that he stands alongside the scuddy yob we first heard say, exactly ten years ago at a near-Avebury rally: “It’s legal innit!” Here’s his version: “Illegal – in this blog – means “in violation of the laws of the United States.” So if you think it’s probably just been stolen abroad but it can’t actually be proved to be so in the States, it’s definitely fine to trade in. Moral pigmyism innit?

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Balmy Find



Balm or Snake Oil?
UK metal detectorist and wannabe TV presenter James Balme ‏("Just loving my latest find !!! Ancient Votive Bronze Horse ..") says the contextless "Ancient Votive Bronze Horse ... " which he has just found is "now with experts for analysis". While that is in progress, he made a You Tube video of his find: https://youtu.be/UMBAUwiXWmc.
See for yourself the latest discovery made by archaeologist and Presenter James Balme of an ancient votive bronze horse in stunning condition. The Statue is currently being studied by experts and early indications suggest that the horse could be almost 3000 years old !!! A relic of the Early Bronze Age ?? A tantalizing look back into the past for sure. The style of the horse is archaic and mirrors many of the horses seen on the reverse of early Celtic coinage ....

I suggest Greek gift shop would be a better place to look for the analogies to both the form and the giveaway chemical patination. Here without the overblown claims and the heroic music are a few to put this detectorist's  "Celtic" one in context. There's a base more or less like Mr Balme's on one in the Louvre. Here's one from Christie's, and here's one nicked from Olympia (they got it back). Mr Balme, where are you claiming you found that one?

UPDATE 20th April 2015:
Mr Balme replies:
.2 godziny temu
no not quite so .... now confirmed authentic Mr Barford .... sorry to dissapoint [sic].... best of luck. Ur 19 years to [sic] late...
Well, let us see the name of these trade "experts" then. Let us see who can't tell chemical patina from earth-grimed patina. I am not at all "disappointed". I like it when metal detectorists find fakes and cannot tell the difference. It shows why we need a PAS staffed by proper archaeologists and not "volunteers". Whatever it is, it is not here though on the PAS database.

UPDATE UPDATE 20th April 2015:
Now the balmy "Presenter" claims:
"Excavated in 1965. Full provenance held. Now being prepared for auction. This is not a metal detecting find. You really need to mind your own business Paul". 
I think when a metal detectorist like Mr Balme announces he's made a "discovery" of an ancient artefact (he called it a "find"), it suggests he's found something with his metal detector. What metal detectorists do and claim is indeed everybody's business, they do not have a monopoly of the archaeological heritage.

Now the gentleman has blocked me from his Twitter account just to make sure I cannot see any of his further claims and pseudo-discoveries. He's not blocked me from his Facebook account (yet), and there we read more about this "find", he seems to have bought it (for his "collection") at the end of last month:
"James Balme dodał 2 nowe zdjęcia.
Fantastic Ancient Bronze Stag acquired this evening, another one for the collection... Circa 2nd century BC - 1st Century AD and excavated in Europe in the late 1950's !!! Stands at 4 1/2 inches tall, over 4 inches wide, weight is 1 Kilo ... A stunning example with triangle pierced design in the base"
It appears he bought it (on eBay maybe?) as an "ancient stag" and the mutable collecting history then was that it was dug up in the 1950s. Mr Balme was had. So here we have yet another case of a metal detectorist buying something on the antiquities (and fake antiquities) market and pretending that it is one of his "finds". That is simply dishonest and contaminates the historical record with spurious "finds".

This is not the first time that this particular amateur archaeologist has been caught out by a purchased item presented as a "discovery" but in fact a modern confection: Sarah Griffiths, 'Mysterious Anglo-Saxon carving is discovered in a back GARDEN - and it may contain a hidden message' MailOnline, 10 February 2015. Then there is the "ancient" Thai Buddha (export license?) he recently "discovered" - sawn off, but inexplicably has the same patina inside the cast as outside...  As for the "Royal Seal of Ramesses The Great" he claims also to have "Discovered" (Archaeologist and presenter James Balme continues his search for important objects and artifacts that lay hidden awaiting discovery in some of the most unlikely places. Well just a few days ago he made yet another exciting discovery, this time in a charity shop in Herfordshire !!"). It bears not the slightest resemblance to any genuine Egyptian artefact, and is a tourist fantasy-piece (imitating a mini-stela). The author of this pastiche gets the name of the ruler (and protocol of its representation) wrong, the inscription is gibberish and the iconography of the reverse is meaningless and comical in its non-canonic execution (the figure looks as if it was copied from a cylinder-seal). There is a dealer in New York who is alternately laughed at and execrated for selling such stuff  as genuine artefacts to the credulous, here "archaeologist" Balme reveals himself to be little better at assessing such claims than those customers. 

To return to the "ancient stag-horse", to establish its (and his) legitimacy, Mr Balme should release the "full provenance held" and the names of the "experts" who "authenticated" this piece. If he has the provenance of the excavated find, he will be able to show us also the documents of assignment of ownership in the source country (or was it stolen?) and the export licence proving it is not an illicit antiquity. No archaeologist  should get involved in handling illicit antiquities or potential illicit antiquities, or passing fakes off as authentic 'grounded' artefacts.

Mr Balme can carry on blocking me, that shows how this "archaeologist" reacts to debate about his "finds" and his interpretation of them. Shame on you, sir.


Saturday, 18 April 2015

Haji Bakr and the rise of ISIL


Haji Bakr and the rise of ISIL: Christoph Reuter, 'The Terror Strategist: Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State' Spiegel Online April 18, 2015


Der Spiegel's map of ISIL-held territory at beginning of April 2015


More on Antiquitist Neocolonialism


"Ultimately the only way to stop the
destruction of Iraq and Syria’s cultural heritage
is to stop the destruction of Iraq and Syria" Christopher Jones.
.
The antiquities trade and its supporters, especially those from across the Atlantic are calling for military action to counteract (retaliate for) destruction of cultural property, from Arthur Houghton, Hugh Eakin and now - invoking the responsibility to protect - we have fresh notions of imposing western will from Ann Marlowe. Bodybags against mudbrick and sculpted stone. As Christopher Jones in an excellent Hyperallergic essay ('In Battle Against ISIS, Saving Lives or Ancient Artifacts' April 17, 2015) argues:
There is nevertheless something deeply unsettling about calls to kill to protect cultural heritage, especially when tens of thousands of human beings have been massacred, tortured, raped, and enslaved by ISIS and millions more are refugees. What does it say about our values when the destruction of priceless yet nevertheless inanimate objects takes urgency over protecting the lives of human beings? Are ancient artifacts, no matter how valuable, ever worth taking a human life for, even if that human being is a member of ISIS? And is there anything more reminiscent of 19th-century colonialism than Western intervention in a country to secure its ancient artifacts while ignoring the suffering of its living population?

Vignette: guns not the answer to everything.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Coin Dealer and Body Bags


will you buy a used car with no
documentation from me
?
How appalling, ISIL may, admits dugup Dealer Dave ("Islamic State" Terrorists and the Antiquities Market', Friday, April 17, 2015),
"be exploiting the legitimate first world art market by taking advantage of its traditional reliance upon confidence in long-established sources and personal connections, and a centuries-old tradition of anonymous sales by collectors unwilling to publicly disclose their divestitures for personal, security or financial reasons". 
Personally I cannot see how such a market can in any way be described as "legitimate". Instead of being exploited by ISIL suppliers, the current no-questions asked market allows their creation. A more transparent, accountable and careful market would be impossible for them to penetrate. Dealer Dave is worried that this may affect dugup dealers as governmental efforts to regulate trafficking in blood antiquities "will almost certainly lay a heavy and indiscriminate hand on the antiquities market". Bravo. He says:
Collectors and dealers should exercise due diligence, prudent restraint and caution in considering acquisition of coins struck in, or known to have circulated in, Syria and Mesopotamia, Be certain that such acquisitions do not include anything not verifiably traceable to a collection or dealer stock prior to August 2011, when the ISI became active in the Syrian insurgency.
So the sales of antiquities by militants fighting the US-led invasion from 2003 onwards do not concern collectors? The sales that allowed the purchase of weapons and munitions which led to the death of member of the anti-Saddam coalition? The sales that led to young men going home in body bags? This does not concern Dealer Dave, who is apparently only interested in erosion of profits through attempts to fight ISIL?

The legislation deciding licit and illicit antiquities in both Syria and Iraq goes back a good deal beyond "August 2011". In Syria, to be precise at least 1963, and Iraq  back to 1936. Anything brought into any "old collection" after those dates without the proper release documentation are illicit antiquities. And it matters not a hoot if the dealer threw away the documentation in order to hide the actual date of import, or by what "long-established sources and personal connections" they passed through on the way out of the source country. 


UPDATE 18th April 2015

Nope, Dealer Dave just does not get it does he? It takes a special kind of intellect to have something explained to you repeatedly in plain English over a number of years and still not manage to even hear what was said, let alone understand it. So he's updated his blog post with a repetition of some ad hominem pseudo-biographical details he made up, he disingenuously pretends he does not understand what I wrote:
Readers are cautioned that "illicit" is Barfordian doublespeak for "undocumented" or "unprovenanced." It does not mean "illegal."
He apparently feels that his readers have to be "warned" about Mr Barford. Perhaps the slack-jawed hillbilly ones will heed his warning. Those with a spark of intelligence will check out what the word "illicit" means if they do not already know. Mr Welsh, despite claiming to "read or speak five modern languages in addition to Latin, Greek and studies in extinct ancient scripts found on coins" and despite having it explained to him a number of times clearly does not.  One can have an illicit relationship without it being illegal in any sense. Many people do Mr Welsh. Illicit narcotics - such as designer drugs - are not illegal Mr Welsh, that is their nature. Many people use them and understand the difference - that does not make them a good thing to be involved in Mr Welsh. Especially if they are of undocumented origins, like many coins you say we should treat as 'kosher'. There are many dangers in handling designer drugs of unknown origin, Mr Welsh.

Let us note the name of the Convention we are referring to here. In the European English version the title and text use the word "illicit" - not "illegal". In the parallel French text the word used is "illicite" and not "illégal" ("Convention concernant les mesures à prendre pour interdire et empêcher l'importation, l'exportation et le transfert de propriété illicites des biens culturels"). It is the same in the parallel Spanish text ("Convención sobre las medidas que deben adoptarse para prohibir e impedir la importación, la exportación y la transferencia de propiedad ilícitas de bienes culturales"). The Russian text uses the word незаконный and not нелегальный. I really do not understand how anyone can with a straight face claim that the Convention meant to use the term "illegal" and through some mistake which has not been noticed in 45 years, accidentally used the word "illicit".

In that sense therefore (see the Convention's Article 3):
The legislation deciding licit and illicit antiquities in both Syria and Iraq goes back a good deal beyond "August 2011". In Syria, to be precise at least 1963, and Iraq  back to 1936. Anything brought into any "old collection" after those dates without the proper release documentation are illicit antiquities."
That is not any kind of "double-talk", it is a cold hard fact. In order for the trade in these items to be considered legitimate, there is no way around the fact that these dates must be respected by all handling this material who want to be counted as doing a legitimate business in a responsible manner. That dealers like Mr Welsh continue to attempt to find a way around that (like doing what he calls "due diligence" going only as far back as August 2011 and trying to convince his clients that its enough) is symptomatic. It speaks volumes for what is really going on in the antiquities trade. The way Mr Welsh attempts to deflect attention from perfectly valid criticism through ad hominems and alienation of himself from any discussion of the issues is also symptomatic. It speaks volumes for the current state of the heritage debate.

This dodging the issues has been going on now for decades. It is time for this to be replaced by proper discussion, whether the dealers and collectors choose to take part in it or not. I rather get the impression from the sort of activity discussed here that they want to become alienated so they can play the victim like they normally do.



UPDATE 19th April 2015

Nope, Dealer Dave really, really just does not get it does he? The adjective "moronic" really does seem quite apposite to Dealer Dave's line of argument here. Either he really is stupid and does not see what is being discussed, or he thinks we are all stupid and will not spot a sleight-of-hand trick. Illicit sex Mr Welsh is not "undocumented sex". And yes, yes he is dodging the issues once again.



Americans with illegal Iraq War souvenirs go unprosecuted


American military members, contractors and others caught with culturally significant artifacts they brought home from the war there are going largely unprosecuted. Years after the war, swords, artifacts and other items looted from Saddam Hussein's palaces are still turning up for sale online and at auctions, and in some cases U.S. agents have traced them to American government employees, who took them as souvenirs or war trophies. The materials are often returned once they become known, but defenders of the country's historical sites and artifacts argue that won't change anything. Smuggling cases are difficult to investigate, and prosecutors and courts generally have been satisfied to take them no further than forfeiture, said Patty Gerstenblith, director of DePaul University's Center for Art, Museum and Cultural Heritage Law. "Just giving the object up is not a deterrent," she said.
Michael Melia, 'Americans with illegal Iraq War souvenirs go unprosecuted', Associated Press April 17, 2015

PAS REALLY Doing a Bad Job Bringing Archaeology to the Public?


How can the UK public
meaningfully engage in
heritage protection when
they are kept under-
informed?
Metal detectorist "Janner 53" ( April 17, 2015 at 12:08 am ) admits here too: (in full sky-is-falling' mode:
Myself and I expect thousands of other detectorists never knew this so called ‘Valletta Convention’ existed
The 1992 'European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised)' - being a revision of the 1969 London 'European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage'. Britain's refusal in the 1990s to adopt legislation enacting Art. 3 was the reason for the setting up of the PAS and UK detectorists have "never heard of it". That does not say much for their "interest in history", or anything else. Like a load of kids, they need everything on a plate.

While on the topic, which of Articles 1-2 and 4-12 do these people with their "passionate interest in the past" disagree with in addition to that threatening-looking Article 3? What is the problem with Article 3 if what metal detectorists are doing is being presented by them as a form of "protection of the archaeological heritage"? Could it be that detectorists doubt their own myth? If the PAS was issuing the authorisations and dealing with processing the information that results, in what way do metal detectorists feel that it is problematic? It would be the detectorists' own "partner organization" deciding who is a person "qualified" or not, why would that create problems for responsible detectorists already working effectively with the Scheme for many years?

Maybe the PAS could do something about educating their 'partners' so they do not continue to compromise them by their public shows of ignorance about fundamental issues. 


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Keeping the US Market Clean: Cambodian Antiquities Seized


Surprised anyone? "Major US Seizure Included Cambodian Artifacts" Cambodia Daily April 16, 2015.

“Operation Hidden Idol” reportedly involves several major Cambodian artifacts, such as a "$1.2-million Naga statue found in Mr. Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery on Madison Avenue in Manhattan", also seized according to court records were:
a group of Cambodian stone figures worth $700,000; two objects identified as “Khmer statues” worth $250,000 and $175,000; a Cambodian “standing figure on pedestal” also worth $175,000; an “elephant w/hat statue” worth $145,000; a “Khmer Vishnu sandstone wall fragment” worth $65,000; and a crowned Buddha worth $45,000; as well as many other Cambodian statues worth tens of thousands of dollars. In some cases, the artifacts are valued in groups; one group worth a total of $7.48 million includes an unspecified number of Cambodian relics. A $5-million “large bronze statue” reported to be from either Cambodia or Thailand was also seized.
Now, all the courts have to do is sort out which ones can be documented as legally acquired and exported so they can be returned to the US market. Those that cannot will be taken off the market and probably sent to the country of origin where this can be determined. Of course any items deemed by government-retained specialists to be inauthentic may go back on the market too.

Relief Nicked from Karnak Returned


Ministry loses the stone,
manages to keep the picture (MnAnt)
A statement by Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty on Thursday concerned an 18th dynasty pillar fragment from Karnak temple with part of a relief of Amon Re standing receiving offerings from pharaoh Tuthmosis IV will return to Egypt in the next few days. The object had been illegally smuggled to London
Chairman of Egypt’s Restored Artifacts Department Aly Ahmed told The Cairo Post that Damaty’s announcement came “after the British citizen, who possesses the fragment, contacted the Egyptian Embassy in London he decided voluntarily to return it back to the Egyptian authorities after he found out it was original and was illegally smuggled.”[...] the limestone fragment is registered in the antiquities ministry’s archive [...] the date when the artifact was stolen remain unknown.
So the Brit thought he was buying a fake, but was surprised to find out is was an original?

Rany Mostafa, 'Briton gives up 3,300 year-old ancient Egyptian artifact', Cairo Post Apr. 16, 2015

UPDATE  6th July 2015

In a piece in Ahram online (Nevine El-Aref,'A part of Tutmosis Karnak column arrives home from London', 5th July 2015) we learn that this piece of a column "was stolen and illegally smuggled out of the country many years ago", but then adds the information that:
The piece was in the gallery of Karnak that was subjected to looting in the aftermath of January 2011 revolution. The piece is registered in the Ministry of Antiquities official documents [...]. It is 36cm wide and 29cm tall. Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty explained that the piece was in the possession in a British citizen who bought it from the market without knowing that it was a stolen piece. Upon his knowledge, the British citizen agreed to return the piece back to Egypt.
That is interesting, because there was no report of any raid on any storeroom at the time of the 2011 'revolution', indeed all the reports at the time indicated that there had been no trouble near these sites, most of it was further north. Was the information about this raid suppressed at the time (Dr Hawass?) or is it a fictional one made-up to explain a theft which took place under different circumstances?

The name of the dealer from whom he bought it is not given in either article.

The "Hall" it came from is presumably the sandstone-built chapel and peristyle hall built against the back or eastern walls of the main Karnak temple building, accessible to those who had no right of access to the main and serving as a 'place of the ear' for the god Amun where the god could hear the prayers of the townspeople.
The piece is to be sent to the restoration lab of the Egyptian museum for inspection and restoration before returning it to its original position in Karnak.
 
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