Saturday 10 April 2010

Hawass accused of not having finger on the pulse of the modern antiquities market

In a post on his blog, Larry Rothfield ( Memo to Zahi Hawass: Museums are not the main source for buying stolen antiquities ) comments on Zahi Hawass's remark at the Cairo Conference: "Museums are the main source for buying stolen artifacts. If museums stopped not to buy artifacts, actually, the theft will be less, and we can control that". I must admit when I read that I thought the same. Rothfield correctly points out: "Museums make up only a small percentage of the buyers on the antiquities market worldwide. And most museums in the West have now already stopped buying illicit or even just dodgy antiquities. That is not going to put an end to collecting of illicit antiquities". As he observes, the main problem is now private collectors, and unless the indiscriminate market is cleaned up the problem will continue to get worse. Rothfield has a solution, but personally I feel that rather than increasing policing at the sites (very difficult to organize even in a rich country like the USA on BLM land) we need to concentrate on combatting those who are buying artefacts "no questions asked" which is the way the illicit goods end up on international markets.


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