Sunday, 28 April 2019

Eleven Years of of Inaction on UK No-Questions-Asked Trade in Portable Antiquities

Oxford Archaeology 2008 Nighthawks and nighthawking report recommendation (p. 110, points 11.1.10-12):
'Implement changes recently introduced in Europe which increase the obligation on sellers of antiquities to provide provenances and establish legal title',  Nighthawking is carried out primarily for monetary gain and eliminating the market for illegal antiquities is essential in tackling the problem. At present there is no obligation to report potential Treasure items unless you are the finder, this needs to be addressed in the Coroners Bill. Stronger arrangements are in place for other European countries, eg on providing provenance for finds when selling them which could usefully be adopted here (Appendix 14). These actions would make it more difficult to sell illegally acquired objects. The PAS will promote these issues
what has been done eleven years on? What has changed in real terms? People involved with freshly-dug and other portable antiquities (dealers, buyers, collectors, FLOs etc.) are happy handling and storing on their premises artefacts (portable antiquities)  when the person that has handed them on to them have not in any way documented legal title. The PAS and museum world at least should be setting an explicit example. Far from 'promoting these issues', FLOs routinely accept finds for recording with only word-of-mouth assurances from the finder that they have title to it, there are generally no documents on file confirming that an object included on the database has indeed established title.

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