Wednesday 17 March 2010

Matthew Leeming on Looting in Afghanistan

'Alexander the Great in Afghanistan’ by Matthew Leeming (Matthew Leeming is the co-author, with Bijan Omrani, of Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide).
On the right hand bank of the river is one of the most extraordinary historical sites in Afghanistan: the remains of an entire Greek city, known locally as Ai Khanoum (Moon Lady) and almost certainly Alexandria-on-the-Oxus mentioned in ancient sources. [...] during the civil war of the 1990s, the city was badly looted and today resembles a moonscape. Mechanical excavators were brought in to dig holes and the local commander offered me a Hellenistic gilt and glass bowl for US$ 80,000 dollars. It would have been worth several million dollars at auction. The commander was running a bazaar of looted antiquities. His customers were international, art dealers making the trip to the front line to buy priceless antiquities very, very cheap. No questions were asked by the buyers.
I wonder in which dealers' galleries these blood antiquities appeared with no provenance given? I wonder where they are now? Or would the no-questions-asked dealers' lobby ask us to believe that they magically dematerialise and turn into golden swans which flew off into the sunset the moment they crossed Afghanistan's political borders?

One of them said of criticisms of the way the no-questions-asked trade in antiquities was financing criminal violence against civlians:"In the mind of many American collectors, this is perhaps the most inflammatory of all claims. It is often taken very personally, as it implies a lack of patriotism," how "patriotic" is it of the antiquitist "internationalists" in their narcissistic self-interest to buy undocumented antiquities no-questions-asked on this shady international market where there is every chance that they are putting money into the pockets of foreign law-breakers and violent men? This is not a "claim", no matter how much buyers want to believe it is untrue, it is happening.

No comments:

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