Sunday, 7 November 2010

Playing at Scholars, or Just Childish Thrill Seeking?

EBay: finishing in a few hours, hurry hurry get yer genewine anshint 'Gyptin Bread Here....
[Picture of two shrivelled brown objects and behind them a paper label reading 'Egypt Bread, New Kingdom Tomb']

BREAD - Ancient Egypt New kingdom 18th dyn. - Ex Smith

BREAD - Ancient Egypt New kingdom 18th dyn. circa 1320BC - Ex Smith
The spiel asserts:
these were found in a new kingdom tomb terracotta jar. [the simple jar is at the museum in san diego] collected by my father dr. gerald a smith in the 1930s all my things are guaranteed by me - lifetime.. mine you do not get all of this JUST a small piece i will cut off.

also i recommend if you are going to eat some of the food ancient Egyptians took with them to the not hasten your own. crumble and boil this......a lot..... and it becomes a sterile tea. i tried some when i was a kid and remember it to be like drinking dirt.... your call.

much of dad's collection is at the museum of man in balboa park, san diego. another part in the fullerton museum of san bernardino state university. dr g
A potential buyer asks:
31-Oct-10 Q: Hi!...nice item!....quick question: You say the buyer won't get all that is in the picture, but just a part of it. Can you tell me what the sizes of the pieces in the picture are, and what will be the size of the item sent to the buyer?.....thanks for any advice or info!!!!....John
A: it will be a small chunk less than a spoonful. are you going to try the tea? Dr G
Note the first question was not answered. I have for some time been meaning to blog about this dealer Geoff Smith ["Dr G"] from Tim Haines' Yahoo "Ancient Artifacts" discussion list. He and his brother Alexander ["amsancient"] are selling through ebay what seems to have been a very substantial private collection accumulated in the 1920s to 1960s. Some of it was donated (?) to San Diego Museum, and other material ended up in other museum collections (such as San Berdino). Despite this the son has been a seller on eBay since September 1998 and at least for the past few years has been selling off material which he says was collected by his father.

Here we see the sort of thing portable antiquity collectors get up to over in the US. Here is a preserved artefact, part of a loaf of bread (apparently). Instead of preserving it however the dealer is going to cut it up into smaller pieces to sell pieces of the same artefact to more buyers - presumably counting on that bringing more profit that way. But he ignores the fact that the Yahoo Group's Code of Ethics for responsible collectors forbids the division of artefacts or groups of artefacts in this manner (principles 4, 5 and 7). What are such declarations worth in such company? Nothing.

Whatever gave anyone the idea of taking a 3000-year old artefact and boiling it up "a lot" and drinking the resultant concoction? What kind of nonsense is this? Is this learning about ancient cultures of just a cheap thrill (like the mummy bit collectors on the same discussion list)? I could understand them putting it under a microscope, analysing it non-destructively by nuclear resonance or whatever to discover how it was made and replicating the bread to "experience the past", but destroying an artefact for the sheer hell of it reeks. If Dr Smith no longer wants the artefacts, let him send the grave group back to Egypt.

UPDATE: A sawn-off teaspoonful of ancient bread sold today on ebay for $102.50

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