Thursday 11 March 2010

Collectors' Activists Mum About Recent Cases

I noted above that a 3,000-year-old Egyptian coffin was seized at a U.S. airport and was returned to Egypt on Wednesday but US collectors' rights activists are notably silent about it. Not a peep on their blogs or discussion lists.

Over in the Four Corners area of the US all sorts of things are going on around a recent case where twenty or so of their fellow collectors stand accused of crimes when all they have done is "preserved" a few Native American artefacts in their homes, looked after them, trying to "understand ancient cultures" by doing so. No different from collecting ancient coins, shabtis or scarabs. Again though the usual culprits are strangely silent abouut developments on their blogs, webpages and discussion group contributions.

In fact the US representatives of this merry band of bloggers is strangely silent generally about US measures to conserve the archaeological heritage of the United States of America. When they mention groups like the AIA it is usually in connection with its standpoint on imported cultural items, from other countries.

What is the matter with these people? Why are they not talking about this? Are they perhaps embarrassed by the failures of the US system to deal with looting and other forms of destruction of the archaeological record? Do they not perhaps care so much about "the past" as they claim, and just shrug their shoulders when it is archaeological remains in the US that are being destroyed? That they are only interested in a "past" that can be bought and sold from a computer desk, and not enjoyed in the field, in the open air? Is the problem for the collectors' activists of the US that the people who left the archaeological record on US soil were not coin-using cultures, unfamiliar with the wheel? This seems to me to be a totally illogical division of the past, and discussions on how best to preserve its material traces.

So come on you antiquity dealers and geekish collector guys, let us see some blogging about how the Barcelona dealer who lost "his" sarcophagus lid has been made a "victim" of the "cultural nationalists". How the Big Brother US Government has violated the "Constitutional rights" of the purchaser to sit in his own home and spend his own hard-earned money on whatever he chooses with his own credit-card. How you cannot even go out with a shovel at night in some regions of the US without some law-enforcement guys following you out to the desert to spy on you. Why actually do the US-based antiquity dealing and buying bloggers concentrate on attacking the antiquities protection measures of unnamed "foreign governments" or specific foreign governments, but almost never make a mention of those of their own governments (the exception being when they are co-operating with the foreigners in investigating illicitly-obtained goods)? I expect the reader can think of a few reasons.

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