Wednesday 16 July 2008

Mesopotamian (non) "insinuations"

On Peter Tompa’s “Cultural Property Observer” blog, Voz Earl writes:
contrary to the insinuations of Paul Barford, even at the lower end of the market (eBay) I see an actual decrease in the number of Mesopotamian "knick-knacks" for sale.”

Mr Earl is quite mistaken. These are not by any means “insinuations”, I state quite openly and plainly, despite the fact that there are restrictions on the trading of Iraqi antiquities and not a few moral and ethical reservations, there is a disturbing quantity of cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals etc on the market which according to the sales offer have no proper documentation showing where they are from and when and how they left the Middle East. I’d like to know who among collectors of portable antiquities would touch such stuff with a bargepole these days.

Google search it and you'll find several dozen on sale today in the US and UK alone ... I wonder if they will all still be there unsold next month? I dont really care if this is more or less than there were a decade or two ago, its a couple of dozen that should not be there if we, dealers and collectors want the world to accord the antiquities trade the status of a "legitimate business". I admit that the word "legitimate" is not the first word that comes to my mind when I see this sort of spectacle.

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