Sunday 11 April 2010

Collectors Rights Advocate: Robin Symes' Etruscan Antiquities "not from Italy":

Reposted from the Yahoo Ancient Artifacts list:
I posted something on ancient artefacts about the UK Symes sale scandal and made a comment linking it to the US MOU - saying maybe Britain should follow in the footsteps of the USA. This is the comment it received:
Paul, The comment by Renfrew that you quote in your link:"Many of the antiquities are Etruscan and could only have been found in Italy. They left Italy illegally because they would require an export licence. I can't see how the Home Office can dispute that" is not true at all. Perhaps Renfrew is unfamiliar with the Etruscans and their contacts
in other parts of Europe (especially the Celts)
. For a start, the Vix grave in Burgundy contained an Etruscan oinochoe and drinking cups, A mound at La Garenne (in the suburbs of Paris) contained an Etruscan bronze bowl with griffin or lioness handles. An Etruscan gold band came from one of the graves at Weisskirchen in Germany, An Etruscan beak flagon is from a grave at Somme-Bionne (Marnian -- France), An Etruscan granulated bead from Grossholz ob Ins, Swizterland. There are many more, (see Paul Jacobsthal, Early Celtic Art, Chapter 5, and catalogue text), but this sample should serve. John
It mostly serves to show how the blinkered vision of artefact collectors tends not to see the wood for the trees. Well, of course it would be extraordinary arrogance of this amateur Canadian coiney to claim that he is more fully aware than the Professor of European Archaeology at Cambridge that there are objects of Etruscan type (which does not mean they are "Etruscan") in these assemblages... And isn't it interesting that here suddenly PROVENANCE and ASSOCIATIONS become important to a collector? So, it is not true that decontextualised artefacts can provide the same information as objects of known provenance.

In Helgo, Sweden an early Medieval bronze figurine of a seated Buddha was found. One cannot however use that as an argument that all the knocked-off buddha heads on the market must have come from Sweden, or even to say that they "cannot have come from" southeast Asia.

John Hooker is perhaps unaware of the sources of most of the items in Robin Symes' stock (despite the fact his is a well known case in the antiquities trading world) and his relationship to Giacomo Medici. I suggest he read up on it before he writes to Professor Lord Renfrew putting him right over where Etruscan antiquities can be found in commercial quantities.

PS the region of France where the Somme Bionne chariot grave was found is Marne.

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