Friday, 13 August 2010

Misreporting on Kuwait Museum

Several years ago I had my first online 'face-to-face' encounter with the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild Executive Director, Wayne Sayles. He immediately tried to convince me that looting in Iraq and Afghanistan had not in fact taken place, that it was all part of some nefarious conspiracy between "archaeologists" and UNESCO - presented as some kind of tool of Satan. Several years on, I have learnt a lot more about the ACCG and its methods and the people that support them, and this no longer surprises me, but the ACCG it seems has learnt nothing, still the same old tactics of ignoring the issues, personal attacks and outright denial.

Thus it is again no surprise to see ACCG mouthpiece, Washington lawyer and collector Peter Tompa intimating on his blog that archaeologist Donny George was involved in "the looting" of Kuwait's museums by Iraq during the August 1990 invasion. This the lawyer got from some gossip, perhaps overheard at a coctail party, purportedly from Dr George himself. Without checking this information at source, Tompa posted his scurrulous accusations on his blog a few days ago intended to discredit this academic.

Dr George himself has answered these mean-spirited coiney accusations (here and here - specifically denying both accusations), but Tompa [who apparently does not know the words "sorry, I was mistaken"] instead of withdrawing his remarks merely added insult to injury supplementing his original post with an addendum, stressing the "guilt" of Dr George is that the Iraqi lived and worked ("willingly") in Saddam's country in 1990, and thus personally responsible for all Saddam's decisions !

Now Larry Rothfeld from Chicago University has added his voice to this increasingly silly discussion ('Donny George speaks out on the evacuation of the Kuwait Museum in 1991' - The Punching bag, Friday 13th August 2010). He has done a lot more research than Tompa the Iraqi looting and certainly in my books is a more reliable source of information than unverified second-hand tittle-tattle. Rothfeld cites a few references which give the background to the accusation of "looting" of the museum, and concludes:
media misreporting back in the 1990s, probably encouraged by supporters of Kuwait, mixed up the real and inexcusable looting of private Kuwaiti collections with the entirely legal and indeed required removal of the holdings of Kuwait's National Museum by heritage professionals from Iraq. This misreporting has a long tail.
It is disappointing to see it being repeated by one of the Directors of the Cultural Property Research Institute and cultural property lawyer for a Washington law firm in an all-too-transparent smear attack intended to discredit an academic who says things the dealers in antiquities who are his firm's clients find uncomfortable.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

Now it seems it was Dr Dorothy King who asserts that Donny George was involved too in the looting of private collections during the invasion. ("Donny George told me that [...] during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait his role was to pack up the contents of [...] private collections and ship them back to Baghdad").

I wonder whether she can back up this assertion?

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