Sunday 2 November 2008

Sayles' Second Thought

Wayne Sayles has reacted to the comments made in answer to his recent "Goose-stepping" blog post. He clearly misunderstands that it is precisely because of his position as Executive Director of the most prominent ancient coin collectors' lobby group worldwide, and precisely because he has undoubted achievements in other areas of numismatic erudition (and yes, I even have at least one of his books), that the constant name-calling he addresses to those who discuss the ethics of collecting of undocumented archaeological artefacts is so unbecoming and disappointing. He writes:
Until there is an overture from someone truly representative of the archaeological community, and not a nut case with a personal agenda, there will be continued animosity between that community and ancient coin collectors. A sad situation for sure. I have said repeatedly that I would welcome serious and substantive discussions that would lead to a unified position on cultural property management, I will not, however, deal with gadflies that have no authority, no plan of action and no ability to think beyond the box of their own ideology. The failure of the archaeological community to embrace any such discussions is a validation of their rigid ideological position which will be satisfied only by the total demise of private collecting. Expect a fight!
well, I suggest that the ACCG could send a representative (such as the Chairperson of the International Affairs Committee) to a group which represents a wider range of academic thought in archaeology (such as the Council for British Archaeology's Britarch discussion group) to present the collectors' case to other archaeologists. Oh, wait a minute, they did that...

Certainly there is an obvious conflict of interests between those who want to see better protection of the world's archaeological resources from exploitation by looters as a source of collectables and those who defend their "right" to collect unlimited ammounts of undocumented archaeological artefacts no-questions-asked. Certainly if that community aggressively defends its position, a "fight" for public opinion is inevitable. The question is, will the representatives of collectors fight in the same ring as the conservationists, or will dodge outside the ropes to sit in a dark corner shouting rude names and coarse challenges at their opponents while avoiding engaging them in a proper exchange in the ring? Let the audience of such a sorry spectacle decide whether they support the man in the ring, or the man who declines to enter it and engage in a fair exchange of blows.
It is also obvious that a person who sits outside the arena merely throwing insults at those who step in is unlikely to be seen by those "truly representative of the archaeological community" to be an attractive partner to engage in "serious and substantive discussions". Obviously it is the "pleasure" of the Board of Directors of the ACCG and all the members it represents to have an Executive Director whose immoderate public behaviour continues to frustrate any attempt at an equitable resolution of the conflict of interests between "heap of loose artefact on a table" collecting in the US and the interests of preservation of the world's archaeological heritage. Its a mystery to me how US and other "ancient coin collectors" expect to be taken seriously while they stand behind such behavior from their representives.
vignette: sumo wrestlers unafraid to face each other - no name-calling here.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

Peter Tompa reckons I have not been as polite as Nathan Elkins in addressing the comments of the ACCG President and Executive Director on British archaeological policy and the Treasure Act. I am sorry he sees it that way. I hardly think however the comments of his Executive Director merit the label "polite". As I say, the arguments emerging from the coin-collecting community represented by the ACCG recently have been little else than insinuations and name calling, and for that reason really are very difficult to take at all seriously. I have always
tried to address the arguments more than the person arguing them, but since these are blogs rerpresenting personal views, at times it can be difficult to separate them.

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