Wednesday 10 March 2010

"Say no to looting": Houston Museum of Natural History

A few days ago I discussed reports of the handing over to Iraq of the next batch of artefacts which had found their way (euphemism) to the US. Among them was a coin that had been handed into the Houston Museum of Natural History in late February 2005 by a guy who had been a civilian truck driver there and apparently had a guilty conscience about it. Anyway, the blog of the Natural History Museum usually carries articles like how bees fly, what dark matter looks like, why pregnant women don’t tip over, where we may have come from as well as many other things. One of the latest posts is called "Connecting the Dots" and starts with the guy who had brought the coin in (" had acquired other antiquities as well, including a clay statue. Excavations were going on all over the place, he said. They are indeed, except, in my world these excavations would be called looting"). So, I wonder what happened to the truck driver's other antiquities? It is interesting to see that specialists in other branches of the sciences appreciate the point about context, too bad that the antiquity collectors with scholarly aspirations but rather poor discriminatory powers when it comes to gathering their "sources" cannot.

Mind you, the Houston Museum of Natural History seems to class the cultural remains of Native Americans (annual report page 19) as "natural history" along with the butterflies and stuffed birds... Hmmm.

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