Thursday 26 September 2013

Syrian Red List

I've just been looking at the Syrian Red List and wondering what its actual use is.
"Should you suspect that a cultural object originating from Syria...."
The people that wrote this may not have noticed (which would be a shame) but those who've spent a lot of time and some of them gone to great hardship trying to understand this trade and its connections have been fairly consistently writing for , oh... , about a year that the stuff is mostly being smuggled across the porous borders, particularly that to the north to Turkish middlemen. So unless the pot, lamp, statue or whatever has "Made in Syria" written in big letters across the base, then how is the item identified as "originating from Syria" at any other border or in any other selling place after that? Sadly the Red List is silent on that. What it needs to do is specifically highlight the types of objects that if found in an assemblage might set alarm bells ringing that the group of loose finds may be worthy of closer scrutiny as potentially Syrian (Tell Brak eye idols for example, Islamic coins of certain types with certain legends etc.)
"Should you suspect... contact ...."
- so if Bobbis Scraggs sees three lamps on eBay or in Messers Grebkesh and Runn's store that look like the one in the picture, what's he supposed to do? Get onto ICOM in Paris?

 Has this document in its present form any actual practical purpose apart from vaguely raising awareness and making the people who wrote it and paid for its writing, printing (and postage) feel good?

("Oh no sir, Syria? Nahhh. This, its from an old Turkish collection. Ottomans, you know. Syria - ABsolutely not. I give you my word as an honest antiquities dealer, it's not from Syria. Really. What's that? Documents sir? No, not really... But you can trust me. Really. Just look at this patina".)

Vignette: Might come from Syria, but most probably will surface on the market in a completely different country.  


David Knell said...

From their list: "Lamps: Bronze and terracotta lamps with rounded bodies and a hole on the top, hollowed nozzle and looped handles or lugs."

Love it! That pretty well covers EVERY lamp made anywhere in the Mediterranean Basin during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. But gotta keep an eye open for those SPECIAL lamps with a "hole on the top" or a "hollowed nozzle" because as we all know, lamps weren't meant to be filled with oil and nozzles weren't meant to hold a wick. Only Syrians made lamps with a HOLLOW nozzle; everyone else in the world always wondered why solid nozzles didn't work very well until Syria solved the mystery.

Do they actually PAY people to write that stuff? Or is it some sort of "work experience" scheme to provide employment for those with the mental age of a 5-year-old?

The so-called "RED LIST OF SYRIAN CULTURAL OBJECTS AT RISK" is clearly just a 'feel-good' reaction cobbled together by the totally incompetent.

Paul Barford said...

It really is sketchy. It lists the laws, but does not say where the texts can be found (like a link to the UNESCO database of the laws).

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