Saturday 4 October 2008

Paraskevaides on Nighthawking

Stalwart Unidroit-L contributor Eftis Paraskevaides comments on the ideas embodied in the abstract of Derek Fincham's recent article. He writes:
When the compensation to the finder is realistic, the black market will be exterminated, with the exception of night hawks whose only avenue will still be the black market because of not having had permission from the land owner in the first instance. This is a more tricky problem, but there can be ways of addressing it if our body of archaeologists are realistic about the problem and come down from their high horse...
Two points. First the label "nighthawks" (it's one word Mr P.) is a strange coverall term conventionally (but inaccurately) used for illegal artefact hunting with metal detectors mainly in the UK. It would not apply to illegal artefact hunting in Cyprus for example. Secondly I am really not sure what "high horse" the dealers and collectors gathered on Unidroit-L think archaeologists should "come down from" over nighthawking. What these people are doing is trespassing and stealing and its as much a problem for the landowners as it is for all who care about the preservation and sensible use of the fragile and finite resource of the remains of the past. Most other dealers and collectors say (publicly at least) that they deplore such actions, so why does Mr P. seem to be suggesting that we should in some way "come down off our high horses" about illegal artefact hunting? (Perhaps he's suggesting we should reward them in some way?) The logic of this statement and its relationship to what Derek Fincham wrote escapes me and we await elucidation in further discussion on the Unidroit-L.

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