Tuesday, 23 May 2017

'Greek Police Arrest Three Men for Possession of Antiquities

Hellenic Police on Saturday arrested three men at Grevena, northwestern Greece, for illegal possession of antiquities of archaeological and scientific value (Philip Chrysopoulos, 'Greek Police Arrest 3 Antiquity Smugglers at Grevena ' Greek Reporter May 21, 2017).
 According to the Athens News Agency, the three men, 42, 52 and 63 years old, had in their homes 32 items in violation of the Law on Antiquities and General Cultural Heritage. Specifically, the three men had in their possession 26 metal coins of the Ancient, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras, a clay vase with a handle, a part of a bronze vase, an intact clay amphora, a bronze cylindrical stem, a bronze curved handle and a circular metal object. In addition, police found a metal detector, while the 63-year old had 7.5 grams of cannabis seeds and small quantities of raw cannabis. The antiquities were seized and handed over to the Grevena Ephorate of Antiquities, while local authorities investigate how and when the three men acquired the items

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Plight of Syrians (video clip)

Searching for Syria – in partnership with Google United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Attempt to Smuggle Coins from Turkey to Russia Foiled

Syrian caught at Şanlıurfa airport boarding a plane to Istanbul on his way to Russia with Roman and Hellenistic coins (article in Turkish)

Now find a dealer that would have had any qualms once they reached the international market  at about buying and then selling on those coins without any paperwork at all showing how they came onto the market. 

UNESCO End trafficking, save culture

UNESCO End trafficking, save culture  Published on May 17, 2017

Conflict situations and natural disasters increase the risk of theft and trafficking dramatically. Many instances of plunder, theft and trafficking of cultural objects go unseen or unsolved.
Help stop illicit trafficking of cultural property by spreading the video. For more info visit: http://on.unesco.org/2qnXeYi

This video was produced by the UNESCO Beirut Office in the framework of the Emergency Safeguarding of the Syrian Cultural Heritage project, funded by the European Union and supported by the Flemish Government and the Government of Austria.

Video credits:
Produced by Keeward
Illustration, Animation and Sound Design by Squarefish

Sunday, 21 May 2017

'Not in it fer the Munny;': No?

Returns on rare coins over ten years to the end of 2016 were 195%, easily beating the S&P 500 index. It is after all a growing market, and the PAS is helping it along.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Treasure Hunting, Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

This story has everything: love-interest, bling, money and a gory death - making it ideal for BM dumbdown story telling, hence the BBC news item ('Lost ' medieval gold brooch was 'gift from beheaded baron'). In Leicestershire castle a medieval gold brooch believed to have been lost by a baroness more than 500 years ago has been found near the moat of Kirby Muxloe Castle.

The 15th Century heart-shaped brooch probably belonged to Baroness Hastings, who lived in Kirby Muxloe Castle. The jewel, found by a metal detectorist in a farmer's field, will be sold at auction in August. Experts say it would have been given to her by Baron William Hastings, who was beheaded in 1483. The brooch has a guide price of £6,000-£8,000. It is inlaid with white enamel and engraved with the medieval French inscription "honor et joie" (honour and joy). The finder, who wants to remain anonymous, will split the proceeds of the auction with the landowner after the British Museum declared it treasure but declined to purchase it. [...] The jewel was examined by experts at Hanson's Auctioneers and then authenticated at the British Museum. 

I am sure he's joyful about finding it but if the finder had any honour, he'd not be taking a cut of the proceeds of selling off a dead woman's lost property. Um, why was it reported as only handed to the BM after valuation by Hanson's?  his Treasure hunting game is like shooting fish in a barrel, find a known high status site, get a metal detector and hoover away all around it, you are sure to find something if you dig deep enough.

Are there any descendants of Katherine Neville, Baroness Hastings, alive? Perhaps they should have first option on what happens to this? 

Destruction in Syria

Some rather upsetting before-after photos mounted one over another with a slider: Gareth Davies, 'Thousands of years of history wiped out by ISIS: Shocking new pictures show how the terror group has obliterated Syria's ancient treasures' Mail online, 12 May 2017

Warsaw set for Night of the Museums

 The objective of International Museum
  Day is to raise awareness of the fact that 
“Museums are an important means of cultural exchange,
nrichment of cultures and development of 
mutual understanding,cooperation
and peace among peoples.” 

The worldwide community of museums will celebrate International Museum Day on and around 18 May 2017. Participation in International Museum Day is growing among museums all over the world. In 2016, more than 35,000 museums participated in the event in some 145 countries.
More than 200 museums, galleries, theatres and other institutions in Warsaw are set to take part in the annual Night of the Museums, being held in the Polish capital for the 14th time. Some 300 cultural events will be on offer as museums stay open overnight Saturday-Sunday and other locations which are normally closed to the public throw open their doors. Concerts, sound-and-light multimedia shows and art exhibitions are among other attractions planned across Warsaw.
Warsaw set for Night of the Museums 20.05.2017

The Barford family have an ambitious and eclectic programme planned for tonight. Sadly there is little evidence in the offerings that there is much awareness that the International Museum Day theme chosen for 2017 is "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums".  But then, I am not sure what the organizers mean by that.

Head of Khorsabad Lamassu

   Head of lamassu winged bull at iraq museum from usa 🇺🇸 to 🇮🇶 recovery but i think it's not original it's fake
Ha! Interesting idea. As you are a curator at the museum in Baghdad, I'd say you could be right. It would not be the first time ICE was taken in and repatriated a fake to the same region. Here is is mentioned here earlier:
 'Stolen Artefacts to be Returned by US to Iraq' PACHI Sunday, 15 March 2015;
'More on the Iraq Repatriation Ceremony' PACHI Tuesday, 17 March 2015;
'Dur-Sharrukin ( Khorsabad) Reports'  PACHI Wednesday, 18 March 2015. 
and here on CHL .

hat tip to Dorothy King

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bust Stolen from Villa Adriana Turned up on Market

While some collectors and dealers are willing to pay high
prices for a rare cultural object although it may be stolen,
the public needs to be better informed about what to look for
and the questions to ask before making a purchase

Giulia Domna’s Story of Illicit Trafficking Unite for Heritage May 15th 2017
On 2 December 2016, Dutch police returned the 2nd century marble bust of Roman Empress Giulia Domna to the Italian authorities. The 31-centimetre head had been stolen in 2013 during an exhibition at the Canopus Museum at the Villa Adriana (Tivoli), a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. [...] The story picks up when two Dutch citizens consigned Giulia for auction at Christie’s in Amsterdam in 2015. Christie’s’ staff became suspicious even though they found no listing for the sculpture in databases of stolen art. As the bust was recognized from photos taken at the Villa Adriana and questions of provenance were raised, Christies contacted the Dutch and Italian authorities. The professional approach of the auction house was key to the joint criminal investigation that immediately got underway. It led to the police seizure of the bust of Giulia Domna, and to the arrest and prosecution of the Dutch citizens who had stolen it and then tried to put it on the market. 
And their naming and shaming?
The bust has been on display at the “Recovered Treasures” exhibition at UNESCO, which is sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the Carabinieri Department for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Her next stop is back home at the Villa Adriana. 

Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property Signing Begins Today

19th May
Proud to be 1st signatory Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property ( ),priority of chairmanship

US Grave Robbers and Collectors Happy: NAGPRA Review Suspended?

US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is reportedly suspending the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act review committee. That is odd because just over a month ago new nominees were being sought.

Archie McArchface, versus Trezzi McTreasureface

Having publicised their asinine 'Britain's favourite Treasure' campaign and invited the plebs to vote, the British Museum Department of Dumbdown might at least have published the results and said what they 'mean'. Voting finished on May 15th.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Nederland is gek geworden

Where the CDE has been recorded, where the
conservation services need to get more active
A website of 'Portable Antiquities' in the Netherlands just launched. Maybe our Dutch archaeological friends might care to explain what they mean in the English subtitle by the use of the word 'antiquities', instead of archaeological finds? Antiquities are what collectors collect, looters look for and dealers flog off. The use of the word implies a certain approach to the artefacts and I would like to know why the British disease has spread to the Continent. Can we get a sensible answer here?  The Dutch bit 'Kijk mee met verzamelaars van Nederlandse bodemvondsten' apparently means 'check out the collectors of Dutch soil discoveries'. You cant get more explicit than that. 

There's 89 'prehistoric finds' ('De oudste (metaal)vondsten uit Nederland'), 385 from targeting Roman sites, and 274 from hoovering Medieval ones. Of the latter as many as 116 buckles and 158 disc fibulae - hardly a very accurate reflection of the material culture of the region between AD450 and AD1500 one would have thought. The Roman period fares no better, artefact hunters and collectors have selected from the assemblages they searched 367 assorted fibulae and eighteen slingshot... There are just three miserable coins, the one artefact type which dominates the English PAS database,.

I am not really all that clear what the Dutch think they are doing with this database.  There is not much in the way of an introductory text setting out its aims and objectives. The findspots of the loose artefacts from private collections are not given, The collections containing the objects are not named, zero information about a load of loose artefacts. 

Istanbul police seize over 550 Byzantine, Roman coins from taxi

Doğan News Agency has reported that Turkish police seized 553 coins dating back to the Byzantine and Roman period inside a plastic bag held by a passenger in a cab, in Istanbul on May 16
(Istanbul police seize over 550 Byzantine, Roman coins from taxi

 Police security teams stopped a suspicious cab in the main bus terminal in the Bayrampaşa district and conducted searches inside the car. The passenger was detained during the search after police found a total of 553 coins from the Byzantine and Roman eras, as well as four rosaries and three colored stones belonging to the same periods. Police also conducted searches at a store belonging to the passenger, as well as at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, finding another two ceramic plates, 50 cylinder seals of different sizes and colors, five metal rings, two metal seals, five coins, five metal objects and a cross.[...] The detained passenger has been released by police pending an investigation on charges of “violating the law on protecting cultural and natural properties.”
I wonder what makes a taxi cab 'suspicious' - apart from carrying a coin dealer, that is.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Some Artefacts Smashed in Deir Ezzor province

It is being reported (Ivan Castro, 'ISIS militants crush antiquities discovered in Deir Ezzor province (VIDEO)'  Al Masdar News 14th May 2017):
Amaq agency, which is one of the media wings affiliated with [...] ISIL/ISIS), has published a new video that shows designated terror group’s jihadists destroying ancient statues and artifacts found west of Abu Kamal city in southeastern part of Deir Ezzor province.
 Abu Kamal is just inside the Syrian-Iraq border. The caption to the film, however, actually states that the site concerned is الصالحية  As-Salihiyah, the main town eight kilometres to the west of Dura Europos.  Note the film is dated in the European calendar. A shorter version is presented by EAMENA here. This is the original:

Deir Al-Zour Department - Destruction of statues found by the Antiquities Authority in Salhia, west of Albuqamal

Initially I was wondering whether the narrator here was the same as we saw in the Nimrud video a while ago (wearing the same waistcoat now faded) but these are clearly different men.
The Nimrud-smasher (left) and the Al-Salihiyah (right) compared
The video however seems not to be as objective a record as some commentators have been suggesting. It is clearly a pastiche, first of all showing several scenes which do not seem to me to be As-Salihiyah (27 and 30-1 secs). It opens with a few shots of small items looking like antiquities, but those shown at 9 seconds and 10 seconds include objects which have every appearance of being fakes. These objects are shown standing on a floor of cement-grouted concrete slabs (a museum storeroom floor maybe?). Note that there seems to be the suggestion of a black dado out of focus in the background (see below). 

Then at 51-58 seconds, the camera scans down a series of large classical style sculptures. They are standing in a room on the same (?) concrete slab floor which has a black dado and there are grey walls behind. I've made a photomontage of this sequence, there is a large Roman funerary stele, and three heads. The one in the centre I suspect is a fake. 

But then look at the 'haram figure smashing scene' ...(1m 07 secs). This is set in a space (courtyard?) surrounded by lime-green walls and with a beaten earth floor. We see a scatter of elongated, presumably stone, objects which we are invited to identify as the items we saw in the opening sequences. In fact,  few of the items shown scattered on the earth look like figurines or fragments of figures (there are some that might be animals). There is the large funerary fragment at the back, but it now looks much more battered than in the previous sequence. There are heads too, the brownish one to the right might be that shown in the earlier piled sequence, but I think the large white on to its right is not the same as the (fake?) one we saw in the foreground of the earlier sequence. Among the sculptures are also other stone fragments, none of them obviously sculpted and thus probably added for effect to bulk out a smaller scatter of artefacts. 

In the 18 seconds where we see them smashing things (1.08-1.26), the brownish head breaks pretty easily, showing the colouration to be superficial only (is this a painted plaster cast? The sound it makes when splitting however suggests that this is not the case). We see two people involved, and I am unsure whether the hammer wielder shown in the scene at the end (1.19-1.26) focussing on the destruction of (ceramic?) figures has the same sandals as the narrator who began the hammering. 

Although in the beginning of the sequence we see a number of heads go under the hammer and at the end a close-up view of figurine smashing (1.19-1.26) there are a number of  reasons not to accept at face value what the film purports to show. For example in that last scene, the rubble shown in the background looks nothing like that produced by the hammering in the preceding shotsWe nowhere see the large stela being smashed (or bits from it).

It is unclear where this film was made. Perhaps we are invited to believe that the first shots of the items themselves were filmed in a museum, but then, that would not explain why there are fakes mixed in with what do seem to be genuine artefacts. Perhaps this is material accumulated by a middleman for selling - and thus including material perhaps taken from Dura Europos eight kilometres away and Mari or other sites a bit more distant. It is unclear if the green-walled courtyard is in the same building as that with the concrete slab floor. Perhaps they were transported there from the first filming site - which may explain why there are fewer shown than in the general shots (they had not bothered to bring all the fragments from the one place to where the filming was to be done). 

The reader will guess that after looking carefully at this film, I think it is largely staged. I suspect that the amount of damage done was far less than the film is intended to make the viewer believe. Why would this be? The reason might be prosaic, smashing rocks is hard work in the warmer months, like May, and propagandists were more interested in the overall appearance of the film than actually breaking lots of large stones. The reason might be that the film makers wanted to make people (ISIL-followers, or is this aimed at western collectors?) believe that they are smashing more stuff than they are. It seems to me that the objects got rid of were not all genuine antiquities, and there is reason to believe that some of the things shown in the general shots in fact were not smashed. So where are they now? Were they left in the courtyard in As- Salihiyah to be found when ISIL is pushed out, or are they making their clandestine way to foreign markets as this is being written?

Search on for "The Nation's Fave Trezure"

Will it be a silver pig with an invented backstory?

Oh Yeah?

'The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a project to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects – not just Treasure – found by members of the public in England and Wales. finds.org.uk'
But... Treasure Act 1996 c. 24 Art 12 Report on operation of Act.
'As soon as reasonably practicable after each anniversary of the coming into force of this section, the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament a report on the operation of this Act in the preceding year'.
Treasure reporting is already defined by an act of law, The Secretary of State does not lay the Portable Antiquities Database before parliament annually - so why is the reporting of Treasure items being duplicated at public expense in an extra-legal form? The PAS was set up alongside the Treasure Ac t in 1996 to serve a specific purpose vis a vis the Valetta Convention Arts 2 and 3. That purpose has now been both subverted (it is not working) and abandoned. 

The inclusion of Treasure finds (which will include a high proportion of coin hoards with multiple 'numbers of objects' in each one) in the PAS database is intended to boost 'finds recorded by us' figures. It is also chalk and cheese, the PAS database is to record finds made by members of the public, while Treasure finds made by archaeologists (such as here and here) have to be reported as Treasure. All this gives a false picture of the degree to which UK artefact hunters are responsibly reporting the finds they pocket. 

Strange Collecting habits of 'A Middlesex lady'

Rogueclaccist asks: 'who is the 'middlesex lady' who is selling her papyri collection via timeline auctions? several examples!' Apparently this 'Middlesex lady' acquired everything two decades ago from a dealer who was trading the contents of a collection formed in the 1980s. The manuscripts include:
Lot 83: Egyptian Papyrus Page Fragment Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD.A large fragment of papyrus with demotic text to both sides
Lot 84: Egyptian Papyrus Page Fragment Group Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD A large fragment of papyrus with eighteen lines of Greek text
Lot 86: Egyptian Papyrus Page Fragment Group Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD. A group of two papyrus fragments with demotic text written in ink to both sides
Lot 87: Egyptian Papyrus Scroll Group Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD A group of three rolled papyrus documents with demotic text written in inkLot 88: Egyptian Coptic Manuscript 18th-19th century AD.
Lot 1337 Egyptian Papyrus Page Fragment Group Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD A group of ten fragments of papyrus with Greek text
Lot 1338, Egyptian Papyrus Page Fragment Group : Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD. A group of eleven papyrus fragments with Greek text      Lot 1339 Egyptian Papyrus Page Fragment Group Ptolemaic to Roman Period, 4th century BC-4th century AD. A group of fifteen papyrus fragments with Greek text written in ink, 
The stated collecting history is quite interesting because it is repeated by the seller in the case of a number of other artefacts offered in the same auction, The collector was clearly interested in Hellenistic Greek manuscripts and so we find a Hellenistic gold piece among her acquisitions Lot 104, 'Greek Hellenistic Gold Diadem'. Did this come from Greece or Turkey or Thracian zones? Or is it some kind of votive plaque from Egypt like the manuscripts? This is a possible interpretation considering the Coptic items attributed to the collection of this same anonymous lady: Lot 72 - Egyptian Coptic Marbled Glass Finial, Lot 73 - Egyptian Coptic Marbled Glass Finial and Lot 1336, 'Wooden Coptic Stamp with Horse and Rider',  There is also Lot 2765 - Islamic (sic) Page Fragment Group. I would not be surprised if  picking over sites of the Roman period in Egypt  is also.the collection of glass fragments (Lot 1341 Egyptian and Roman Glass Fragment Group 3rd century BC- 3rd century AD. 'A mixed group of glass fragments including spindle whorls, bangles, beads, drinking vessel rims and a sphere, 96 grams total').

From a clearly different cultural region are two other items that this collection contained: Lot 310: Western Asiatic Inscribed Sword of King Ninurta-nadin-Šumi ['supplied with detailed report by M[ark] Weeden, SOAS'] and 'Lot No. 0729 Western Asiatic Bactrian Cylinder Seal with Animals'. Anonymous Middlesex ladies with an interest in Egyptian Coptic civilization and its predecessors might be unfazed by buying artefacts coming from that region reportedly in the '1980s'. I'd say concerns about buying in 2007 an item coming (presumably) from southern Iraq in the 1980s should arouse some qualms, as well as a cylinder seal potentially from Afghanistan (or neighbouring areas) which could have left the source region during the 1979-1989 Soviet–Afghan War or the 1989-1996 civil war is highly dubious behaviour.  

What would this lady's collection have looked like? What about that collection (or is it collections?) from which all the items were reportedly acquired? Here is an attempt to present all the items the dealer says are from both:

What was this lady thinking? How would this 'collection' have been used, and how was it stored and displayed? (Most of it consists of tatty manuscript scraps.) What do collectors do with all the items they accumulate? This is not a collection put together as the result of random bleeps of a metal detector, both collectors (in the 1980s and the Middlesex Lady) put this group of items together by selecting them individually from a larger pool of objects on the market. What were the reasons, emotions, incentives, behind these decisions? Surely if archaeologists in Britain are treating collectors of portable antiquities as their 'partners', we ought to be gaining a much better understanding of the processes by which these collections are being built up. What are the intellectual consequences of this activity and the manner in which it is currently carried out? Why are British archaeologists so slow to study the taphonomy of collections like this and what it says of this 'partnership'?

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Elizabeth Marlowe Replies to Vikan on Museums and the Antiquities Trade

Elizabeth Marlowe has written a piece 'American Museums First? A Response to Gary Vikan', which is a reply to the latter's essay “Why US Museums and the Antiquities Trade Should Work Together,” in the January 30, 2017, issue of Apollo. The response is an excellent one, as one might expect from the author of the excellent Shaky Ground: Context, Connoisseurship, and the History of Roman Art 2013) . The text begins with a brief overview of the development of concerns about Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record in the 1990s when 'the first clear picture of the staggering scale of antiquities looting' emerged and the direct, knowing collaboration of US museums in it'.
Antiquities and other items of cultural property without clear proof of a legal, pre-1970 export date are now assumed guilty until proven innocent, and very few museums in North America or Europe are willing to acquire them.
 and it is that which Vikan was polemising with. But, as Marlowe notes of Vikan's attitudes to US museum collections:

It is hard not to notice the resonances between this perspective and the “America First” rhetoric of the current US political regime. Vikan appears blissfully un-self-aware, blind or indifferent to the global political and economic inequalities that underpin his worldview. Little can be done about that in this essay. Worth analyzing, on the other hand, are the particular mechanisms he proposes to “unfreeze the pipeline.” Despite his civic-minded claims, the main beneficiary of his “solution” would be not so much the general, museum-going “American public” as the private antiquities collectors, and the unscrupulous ones in particular.
Professor Marlowe then discusses Vikan's idea of a 'database of unpapered artefacts' but concludes 'it is clear that the primary function of this database would be to restore marketability to currently unsellable orphan antiquities'. In addition she remarks that 'I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that the amnesty component effectively transforms Vikan’s orphan database into a laundering operation'. Marlowe questions the assumption that owners, motivated by a desire to sell their collections and/or to obtain legal “amnesty” for their stolen contents, would 'volunteer compromising or unflattering details in a public record'. She is of course right.
Vikan presents his proposal as a fair, innovative, broad-minded solution to a relatively new problem. In fact, what he offers is a system weighted even more heavily in favor of the collectors and the collecting institutions than the pre-2008 status quo. His basic maneuver is to take the onus off the purchasing institution to prove that an object wasn’t stolen and to put it back on the aggrieved source country to prove that it was.
She then goes on to justify the view that 'the actual harm the database could cause is, in fact, tremendous'.

Professor Marlowe then turns briefly to Vikan's second solution to the problem of the 'frozen antiquities pipeline'. He proposed that museums should deaccession the 'second- and third-tier antiquities' in their reserve collections which could be sold to collectors and other museums. Marlowe suggests that museums could redirect resources toward the stewardship of and research into the objects they already own, which she argues is as much a function of a museum as the old ideals of mainly staging spectacular exhibitions of eye-catching trophy artefacts.
Even “second- and third-tier” artworks have stories to tell, and often they are stories that can reach different audiences from those reached by the standard art-museum narratives about beauty and style.
My blog post on the same subject is here: 'Clearing the Vaults and Whitewashing the Taint: Vikan on US Museums and Trade 'Partnership'' PACHI Monday, 30 January 2017

UK Treasure hunter who found Viking hoard to get £2m ransom paid out of public funds.

The aptly-named Evelyn Silber
UK Treasure hunter who found Viking hoard to get £2m ransom paid out of public funds.
Evelyn Silber, Safap chair, said: “The panel is grateful to the finder for reporting these stunning artefacts  [...] These will now be preserved and put on display for the people of Scotland, and the world, to enjoy [...] The mysterious circumstances of their deposition and unique quality will attract researchers and enthusiasts alike.”

well, unless a proper context of deposition can be determined, the only thing serious investigators can be attracted to is guesswork. But then, only in Bonkers Britain is that apparently considerd as a satisfactory basis for serious research. 

Anyway  retired businessman Derek McLennan who located  the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September 2014 swept up in the mood of entitlement artefact hunters are encouraged in Britain to adopt was impatient to learn how much he'd get and felt he was being 'sidelined'. It should be remembered that this signal was 2 ft down. So well below any plough level. The detectorist uses a deep-seeking Minelab CTX, which he finds is "best for pasture". The Code of Practice for Responsible Detecting says keep off pasture.  

UK Support for Artefact Stripping

Archaeological outreach (I use the term loosely) by heritage professional on artefact hunting in Bonkers Britain:
  9 godzin temu9 godzin temuWięcejGreat support from club Oxford Blues last night. Lots of finds offered for recording including this beauty 😍
Who is in fact 'supporting' whom and in what?

This is so ridiculous, are there no real archaeologists willing to speak out?

Friday, 12 May 2017

Man Arrested for Possession and Transportation of Antiquities [UPDATED]

A 46-year-old man was arrested in a parking lot near the Alimos marina in an Athens suburb, on Tuesday for illegal possession and transportation of antiquities. He has been charged violating laws for protection of antiquities and cultural heritage.
 Police said the suspect had obtained an extremely rare Cycladic figurine and an ancient inscription and was trying to sell them for one million euros. They identified the man after many months of investigation and finally arrested him .    
 Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi, 'Man Arrested for Possession and Transportation of Rare Antiquities' GreekReporter May 10, 2017

Update   22nd May 2017

A 46-year-old gardener who allegedly acted as a middleman in the illegal sale of a valuable Cycladic-era statuette was freed pending trial Friday after posting a 10,000-euro bail payment. The gardener, who was arrested earlier this week in a parking lot near the marina in Alimos, southern Athens, is believed to have mediated in the purchase of the statue dating to circa 2800 BC on behalf of an unidentified buyer who paid 1 million euros for the artifact, according to police sources. The seller is being sought by police. He is said to be 1.85 meters tall, aged between 40 and 45 and to go by the name Spyros
Antiquity probe, middleman arrested Ekathimerini 12.05.2017

Police recover stolen ancient coins, lamps, other antiquities near Hebron

A home was raided in the village of Beit Ula, northwest of Hebron in the West Bank, on May 10, 2017 and police detained the homeowner, a Palestinian man in his 50s. Dozens of ancient coins, oil lamps, items of jewellery and Jewish ritual objects were found dating from Hellenistic to Roman and Byzantine times, and on into the Middle Ages. The detainee will be brought before a military court Thursday to have his remand extended, police said.
In April, a Palestinian man suspected of smuggling hundreds of antiquities was arrested by police in a village outside Nablus in the West Bank. A joint police and Civil Administration operation found a trove of antiquities mostly dating to the Hellenistic, Second Temple and Roman periods whose value was estimated at thousands of dollars. The 50-year-old man was detained on suspicion of antiquities trafficking and an investigation was launched to determine whether he was part of a larger network of looters and dealers operating in the West Bank and Israel.
Jacob Magid, 'Police recover stolen ancient coins, lamps, other antiquities near Hebron', Times of Israel May 11, 2017

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Ptolemaic Stele Seized

 Egypt Today, 'Four Ptolemaic tablets seized by disguised officers; Wed, May. 10, 2017.
Four Ptolemaic stele were seized before the people in their possession could sell them for 100 million EGP. The operation was carried out on Wednesday in in Sharqia governorate by two police officers posing as antiquities dealers .
Secret investigations had revealed that Salah M., an antiquities smuggler who resides in Qalyubia governorate, will offer the tablets for sale at the mentioned price. Lt. Colonel Mohamed Ragab, head of the Tourism and Antiquities Investigations department, and Lt. Colonel Mahmoud al-Nemr, an officer in the same department, met the defendant in the town of Mashtoul al-Souk and arrested him.

Molians Get Confoosed

  41 minut temu41 minut temuWięcejCelebrate 2 decades of Portable Antiquities Scheme and vote for your favourite Treasure finds!
and to celebrate the 334th anniversary of the Ashmolean Museum, vote on your favourite aftershave! Is it Kalliope, Klio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia or Urania?

The Molians are confusing two decades of one thing with another. If they are celebrating 'PAS' (Sept 1997), should it not be the NON Treasure finds that  that are the subject of whatever-it-is-they-think-they-are-doing? Bonkers.

Lempertz to hold Asian art auction outside of Germany to avoid cultural heritage law

Gandharan - from where?
One cannot help but think that the title of this could have been better phrased: Jonathan Franks, 'Lempertz to hold Asian art auction outside of Germany to avoid cultural heritage law' Antiques Trade Gazette 02 May 2017.

Nagel and Lempertz have moved their Asian art auctions out of Germany following the introduction of the country's cultural heritage law. It will now hold these auctions in Brussels following the introduction of a law for the protection of works of art of cultural interest (Kulturschutzgesetz), which came into force last August.  Reason:
Under the new due diligence guidelines, the Kulturgutschutzgesetz demands proof of provenance before ‘cultural goods’ are sold – paperwork that is often not available. 
Then if objects such as portable antiquities  are unpapered, no responsible dealer should be adding them to their stock. The dealers do not like teh idea of getting export licences fopr the objects they sell, possibly because it highlights the lack of checks that such papers exist for their licit export from the source country.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Brent Hammond's TimeLine in the News Again

Neil Brodie takes a critical look at the British dealer TimeLine Auctions (The Rihani ‘provenance’

Knowledgeable Dealers?

David Knell has drawn attention to a sale of a 'Roman lamp' by TimeLine Auctions:
Not only is this lamp a modern replica, it doesn't even still have its handle. And the handle was the best part of these replicas!
In order to support his assessment he includes a reference to an easily accessible online resource.
The dealer's description:
5th century AD. A bronze oil lamp with bulbous body extending to a wide nozzle with deeply dished wick hole; hole to the top of lamp with hinged lid in the form of a bearded male head; lug to the back for attachment of separate handle; pedestal foot with wide base. 328 grams, 14cm (5 1/2"). Property of North West London gentleman; acquired from a London collector in the late 1990s; previously in a private collection formed in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

Condition: Fair condition, handle absent.

Starting Bid £130.00
This collecting history does not enlighten us as to when the object arrived on the market and under what conditions an obvious fake got classified as a genuine antiquity.

Vignette: a mug, 'handle absent'.

The Importance of Papers

STOP illegals
Dealer Dave wants us to believe all unpapered antiquities are kosher until proven not to be. He calls my remarks on that topic:
Yet another regurgitation of the same old "broken record" theme: all antiquities are "illicit" if they are traded without full documentation proving their "licit" origin. .

So these illegal immigrants your President and apparently the American people want to throw out of the US, they have papers confirming their legal stay in the US, or they do not?

Criminal Smuggling Across the Mediterranean

The flow of drugs, weapons and people in the Mediterranean has become a feedback loop of instability (Rand Corporation, 'Migrant Crisis in the Mediterranean: What You Need to Know')
The researchers traced the roots of the crisis back to the shattered promise of the Arab Spring and the cratered cities of Syria and Libya, but also to European capitals too divided to act. They mapped the smuggling routes that now crisscross Africa and the Middle East, and then followed the money—billions of dollars every year—to criminal networks flourishing in North Africa and Southern Europe. They showed that what may have once been many individual threats to the stability of the region have now merged, creating a cycle of unrest that feeds back on itself. In Libya alone, for example, the same black markets that provide fake passports and flimsy boats to migrants can also deliver hashish to European drug dealers and shoulder-fired missiles to Syrian fighters. The grinding poverty of West Africa, the unrest of North Africa, and the terrorist threat of ISIS can no longer be treated as unrelated challenges, the researchers concluded. Those problems now all seem “to literally spill into the Mediterranean Sea,” they wrote, threatening the security and stability of the two continents that share its shores. The future of Europe has become inextricably linked by sea to the future of the Middle East and North Africa.
The same routes and mechanisms seem to be responsible for the flow of illicit antiquities into Europe too. To what extent are antiquities dealers and collectors mixed up in this sorry scenario?

Dealing in Unpapered Artefacts, not Facts

A US dugup antiquities dealer admits online that:
carrying on the international trade in antiquities would be practically impossible, if "full documentation proving 'licit' origin" is required.
This is an industry where, according to the same dealer, licitness is determined by feelings rather than hard documented proof. Hardly 'scientific', is it?

Anyway, such a dealer will be risking it if he tries to sell his unpapered artefacts in countries applying legislation implementing the 2017 Nicosia Convention.

The one that is engaged in 'misrepresentation and deception' as Dealer Cave puts it is the shopkeeper himself, representing unpapered artefacts as fully licit by 21st century standards for one, and secondly interpreting the current writer's blog as an attempt to 'suppress collecting' rather than clean up the market. The latter is of course is what is needed. People who purvey unpapered artefacts will have to adapt their business methods (I use the term loosely) to the changing world they want to continue to function in. Do we see any evidence that individuals like Dealer Dave understand that?

Changing the minds of the collector.

In connection with her discussion of the 'Guennol Stargazer', Lynda Albertson writes:
Collecting ancient art can be an extension of a personal passion, a status symbol or a piece of cultural currency but it also serves as a defacto calling card for the current-day purchaser's own collecting ethics. Deep-pocketed collectors can and should demand that their source dealer or auction house examine and not hide the provenance of the trophy works they are interested in acquiring. They should also not discount the unacceptable buying and selling habits of the fading old guard of the art market.

If buyers behave conscientiously, the market will be forced to change its practices to keep up with their connoisseur clientele's ethically motivated demands. If only because it is the auction house’s job to know and to cultivate the sale of objects which their customers crave. That demand is what pushes the selling price past the guarantee.

If the antiquities art market really wants to clean itself up, it may be forced to accept in the not too distant future, that the priciest bombshells from the final “hammer price” tabulations may not simply be the rarest and most compelling, historically significant work of art, but also and equally importantly the one that hasn’t funded a war, or destroyed the archaeological record in a source country.

Combating Illicit Trafficking and Destruction of Cultural Property: Council of Europe adopts New Convention

Press release:
The Council of Europe today adopted a new criminal law convention to prevent and combat the illicit trafficking and destruction of cultural property, in the framework of the Organisation’s action to fight terrorism and organised crime.
The Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, which will be open for signature to any country in the world, also aims to foster international co-operation to fight these crimes, which are destroying the world’s cultural heritage (see also the Explanatory report).
The treaty will be opened for signature in Nicosia (Cyprus) on 19 May, during the 127th Session of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, which will bring together the ministers for foreign affairs from the organisation’s 47 Member States.
Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: “We can no longer stand by and watch the devastation of historic sites and trafficking of precious cultural goods by terrorists. The new convention marks an important step in our efforts to combat transnational organised crime and terrorist groups which are using the trade in blood antiquities as a source of income. I call on states to sign and ratify the convention as soon as possible”.
The Convention, which will be the only international treaty specifically dealing with the criminalisation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property, establishes a number of criminal offences, including theft; unlawful excavation, importation and exportation; and illegal acquisition and placing on the market. It also criminalises the falsification of documents and the destruction or damage of cultural property when committed intentionally.
    OK, the bits of Great Britain that will be Brexiting need not sign this. It would only upset 'the partners' anyway. 

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