|Cyrene in Libya (Wikipedia)|
In this piece of coiney sniping at heritage professionals, the dealer is referring to a Daily Mail article based on Associated Press material (Anon. 'UNESCO, museums warn of extremist threats to Libya artifacts'[sic] Daily Mail 15th December 2015). The message of this article is a perfectly valid one, and one that would - one might have thought if you did not know them very well - concern responsible dealers and collectors everywhere. Not so Mr Sayles. He's only bothered about his trade (snidely depicting the attitude of heritage professionals as "seize everything because it's really for the Greater Good isn't it?").
As a coiney, Mr Sayles' much narrower focus is not on the substance of the text, but on the caption to one of the pictures. He pounces on the fact that "a silver tetradracm [sic] of Nikis, a magistrate of Cyrene in the late 5th to early 4th century BC" is mislabelled as "an Islamic gold dinar of the Marinid dynasty". Gotcha... The little man defeats the experts "again". He writes derisively:
Where in the world does the press come up with their "experts" on cultural property matters? The latest brazen show of ignorance appears in a citation by "leading world museums and the U.N. Cultural agency" in a supposedly expert warning distributed through a plethora of media outlets by Associated Press.Moreover this mistake is interpreted by Sayles as meaning that because it is not the dirhem from the Red List, this is therefore not "one of the cultural treasures from Libya that needs to be watched for". The coin minted in Cyrene is:
not even remotely from medieval Libya.* So, what is a customs inspector to do when they see one of these treasures? Treat it as "looted Libyan goods" and seize it? It would be nice if the experts would get it right on something as simple as a common coin attribution.What would be "nice" if idiots would first check their sources before introducing their usual spurious arguments. UNESCO produces their Red Lists as public information material, so the information is out there for customs officers and coin dealers alike to check. It's there for journalists too. It seems an Associated Press journalist cannot actually follow the Red List very well.
Here is the relevant bit, page seven of the eight page pamphlet which Mr Sayles is attacking. Hardly a burdensome read. I think it fairly clear that ICOMOS is not the one who has "got it wrong". As usual, it is the vacant minds of the coineys - out for cheap point-scoring and distraction - which has, through not checking their sources in the most obvious of ways, been throwing mud at the wrong target. The problem is not so much with ICOMOS, but the Daily Mail editors. They cannot even spell the word "artefact" properly, let alone tell a gold coin from a silver one (clue for the clueless, it's in the colour - duh).
The British Treasure hunter and inveterate hater John Howland shares the dealer's delusion that Sayles has caught the experts out:
Hello Wayne: UNESCO and ICOM - Vaudeville lives! Perhaps some Customs Officers are opening themselves to civil claims and actions if they base their seizures on seriously flawed information as shown by ICOM's hideous gaffe.Apart from misidentifying the source of their error, the gaily-chortling couple also ignore the fact that (as any fool can see) the tetradrachm is also on the Red List representing a whole class of artefacts which "should be looked at" when they appear on the market. Cyrene is in Libya (as is Cyrenaica). I personally would not be as blasé as Messrs Sayles and Howland about buying freshly-surfaced artefacts from such a region without checking very carefully the paperwork and verifying their origins. But then, I am sure with his knowledge of the market, Mr Sayles will see many reasons connected with the supply of fresh coins why there are those who'd not welcome their customers enquiring about the possibilities of them supplying such paperwork for scrutiny.
* Note: of course neither was the power-base of the Marinid dynasty, a point which Sayles omitted to make.