Monday 20 February 2012

Protecting Sites from Theft - Coiney Style

The no-questions-asked collectors of dugup coins are full of helpful advice for Greece how they can protect sites and museums from people who want to steal artefacts to sell on the black market - but without, of course, actually tackling that black market. That, apparently, they'd like to see left alone, indeed even to the extent of the US suspending its implementation of any 1970 UNESCO Convention measures to combat artefact smuggling and the illicit trade. One such series of coiney proposals is a rambling document posted to the Moneta-L discussion list called 'Cultural supply and demand in Greece'. It's an eye-opener to attitudes in this milieu.

The author says the Greek public deserves no heritage as they are all treasure hunters ("they do the lottery") and depicts preservationists as some kind of 'lunatic fringe' of archaeology and conservation, and "are like the folks who brought Communism to the world". Conspiracy theory then follows:
Apart from these "blogger-sociopaths", we also face a more formidable foe, and that is the U.S. government who is trying to erode the rights of its people to justice. By catering to more fanatical archaeological elements, they know that they are likely to garner support for various concessions from foreign governments. I do not believe, for an instant, that the State Department really wants to "preserve cultures". They have other motives, and they are fighting to keep these motives secret in the courts. Who can say what the deals are? I think that the most likely scenario is greater world support for Monsanto and genetic modification[...]
Ah, the mutant popcorn and 'terminator seeds' - but then, did not Donny "stuff happens" Rumsfeld have some nice lucrative dealings with Monsanto?

This coiney has some ideas how Greece can use its archaeological sites to raise money, but here is pinching Peter Tompa's ideas: " I think Greece should be selling archaeological permits to the degree that the market will bear". Shameful.
In the meantime, sites can be better guarded -- even without enough staff. Electronic surveillance includes such things as cameras, and motion and vibration detectors (cheap deals are to be had in military surplus). If an archaeological site has to cease being actively excavated, then it should be turned into a parking lot -- we have done this here in Alberta at a 10,000 year old lake village in the Cypress Hills. The cement forms a protective "skin " that keeps moisture and looters out very effectively, yet can be removed with little danger to what lies below the ballast level. It does not need guarding at all by people.
Imagine, impoverished Greece covered by new parking lots, thousands of them. All those jobless Greeks unable to feed their families will then be able to burn up the petrol spending the day driving round from one entombed archaeological site to another and parking their cars on each of them in turn - careful not to set off the vibration detectors. I suppose digging out all that "ballast" enough to cover upstanding ruins such as the areas of the 1930s excavations at Olympia will provide lots of jobs, but then who is going to pay for the excavations on the sites of the quarries from which it is obtained?

Some of us would prefer our rural archaeological sites to retain their semi-natural character - in some regions ancient sites (such as old churchyards) are important habitats for vegetation and wild animals eradicated from the areas around. Perhaps we should just tackle the continuing illicit trade in black market artefacts after all. Who'd object to that?

The coiney concrete-it-all over reminds me of a song, how did it go? Oh, yes:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Unintentional irony here in one coiney addressing a whole gaggle of them, all listening in coiney awe to his vapid ramblings:
There are heroes and villains on both sides, but the most dangerous people I have ever encountered are not the villains, they are the stupid. It is those people whose naivety is allowing the real evil to persist. Collectors are the pawns in other games, and like many people these days, we are starting to get really pissed off about it all.
Yes, the ACCG and its ideologists treat coineys as though they are stupid, are they intelligent enough to see that and get "pissed off" (sic) about it? Frankly, I doubt it. That load of verbal junk went down among them with barely a murmur of dissent. Mutant popcorn and parking lots and much else besides, everything except tackling the illicit trade, that's a no-no subject in US coiney circles, obviously. It is these people that are allowing the evil to persist.

Vignette: High unemployment and parking lots, the coiney vision of the countryside of the future.

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