Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Ill-Informed Aussie Joan Howard Article Discussed

Rae Paoletta, 'A 95-Year-Old "Real Life Tomb Raider" Isn't a Hero, She's a ThiefArchaeologists are appalled', Inverse November 7, 2017
For at least 11 years, Joan Howard pilfered ancient artifacts from sites in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. Decades later, a new article in The West Australian has now hailed Howard as “Indiana Joan” and the 95-year-old “real-life Tomb Raider.” [...] Howard “used her diplomatic freedom to search for antiquities,” which is one hell of a euphemism for using her many privileges to loot precious artifacts. Many of those artifacts, as evidenced by a video featured in The West Australian, now serve as keepsakes and decorations in Howard’s home. [...] If anything, this tone-deaf celebration of a person who effectively destroyed culture reveals our own deeply unsettling ideas about who gets to be hailed as a hero despite actually being a criminal.


David Knell said...

“The short answer is, yes, it was illegal,” archaeologist Peter Campbell tells Inverse. “International law sets the deadline at 1970 — the date of the 1970 UNESCO Convention — for the removal of artifacts from the ground for collection."

Actually, as you know, Campbell is wrong. The 1970 UNESCO Convention is NOT international law. The laws that Howard was probably breaking were those of the countries she was digging in, as Jens Notroff points out. The Australian newspaper's celebration of her blatant disregard of those laws as if she were some kind of hero is ignorant and thoughtless. And much like British media heralding the finds of a detectorist, the focus is all on the objects with no comprehension of the value of context.

Paul Barford said...

> Actually, as you know, Campbell is wrong. The 1970 UNESCO Convention is NOT international law. <
Which, is why, as you will have noticed, I did not quote it .

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