Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Looted Pots in Smithsonian Magazine?

David Gill ('Publishing recently surfaced Mayan pots') draws attention to a recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine (Chip Brown, "El Mirador, the Lost City of the Maya", May 2011) which is illustrated by photos of what seem to be looted ceramic vessels

(see Michael E. Smith, 'Smithsonian magazine published looted artifacts', Publishing Archaeology May 26th 2011).

UPDATE 7th June 2011: Peter Tompa says:
[A]s a subscriber, I'm happy Smithsonian does not limit its illustrations only to artifacts from documented archaeological excavations.
That follows. If those complete pots had been looted from native American graves on US soil, would the subscriber be equally "happy"? Is looting OK for these people when it happens in somebody else's country?

In his haste to get the boot into "archaeobloggers Gill and Barford" Tompa misses that the point was originally made by US archaeologist Michael Smith on his "Publishing Archaeology" blog where, if he'd looked at it, Tompa would have found some interesting comments. The Smithsonian replies to Smith, rather feebly. Karen Olsen Bruhns adds:
my point was, and is, that NO journal should tart up articles with looted artifact. This is an appalling lapse of intelligence and ethics. These pieces are looted. Hence they were acquired by illegal actions. To publish such pieces is to tacitly acquiesce to looting, smuggling, and the vending of stolen goods. That Smithsonian should do it, and offer such puerile excuses, is not defensible.
But Peter Tompa - retained by international numismatic trade associations - openly states that he is "happy" that an institution like the Smithsonian ignores such notions and has lower expectations of his local museum.

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

My opinion is that it wouldn't really matter if the loot comes from Guatemala or the Hopi reservation... Both still fall under the category of "other people's treasure."

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