Thursday, 7 November 2019

The 'Provenance' of Sappho?

In her text on the potential dodgyness of the papyri in the 'Christian' Green Collection, the astute Roberta Mazza raises the question of just what Bettany Hughes knew about the provenance of the recently surfaced 'Sappho' manuscript:
Collecting, even if done responsibly, presents obstacles to scholarship. Collectors do not like publicity — for reasonable reasons (privacy and security) — and tend to establish a privileged relationship with specific scholars. Let us take for example the “elderly” gentleman (as historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes defined him), who has provided private access to his Sappho fragment to Dirk Obbink. That “elderly” gentleman, in London at that time and who knows where now, cannot be approached by anyone wishing to check the text other than the first editor of his papyrus; Obbink is the only person, to my knowledge, who knows his identity and whereabouts. Not to mention the fact that the owner might have sold the Sappho fragment in the time since, as this “elderly” gentleman in fact sounds more like a dealer than anything else. I am of the opinion that the adjective “elderly” is a play on the dealer’s name rather than a reference to his age. Am I wrong? Perhaps I am, but as long as the owner stays anonymous, we will never know, and the new Sappho text and its whereabouts will remain a mystery. 

In case it disappears, the link goes to a discussion by Candida Moss of  the firm 'Oxford Ancient' (Clarendon House, 52 Cornmarket street Oxford) that records show is 'headed by Dirk Obbink'. (She notes that 'Oxford Ancient' shares an office with something called Museum of the Bible Fellowship which seems to be affiliated with the Museum of the Bible). There used to be another antiquities advising and trading company called "Castle Folio" based at the same address (Clarendon House). The company dissolved in April 2019. According to its incorporation docs (dated Oct 31 2014) Castle Folio was jointly and equally owned by Dirk Obbink and Mahmoud Elder. According to its Facebook page, 'Castle Folio "works with... experts and collectors to help identify, preserve and monetize (sic) private collections"...'

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.