Saturday 25 January 2014

Head Shot to a Curator?

A US collector has a cunning plan which he sets forth on the "Cultural Property Observer" blog (January 25, 2014 at 1:46 PM),  he proposes sending a NATO snatch squad to Damascus:
one should be disturbed by the fact that some of the most important artifacts in the Near East rest in Syria, which is convulsed by civil war, and are at risk of being looted and destroyed or sold onward to rapacious markets in the Gulf or China.
He apparently thinks some of them belong in America:
Of particular concern is are the incredibly important paintings of the great Synagogue of Dura Europos, which when I last saw them had a room of their own in the depths of the Damascus Museum. I must tell you, I have discovered some interest in a possible NATO action to rescue these. It would take a very fast operation with limited forces and the technical ability to remove them from the walls, package them properly and then take them out, but I understand this capability exists. Perhaps this is a subject for another, quiet verbal discussion, but I did not want you to lose hope that nothing can be done.
Yes, in this collectors' fantasy world, US cultural property buffs will get into a nice warm Washingtonian huddle and chat about how they are going to send in their brave boys to remove these items by force from the source country to avoid some foreign rebels selling them to the Yellows or Eyerabs. I guess they'd also have to decide what to do if any official of the Syrian Ministry of Antiquities or a member of the Museum's staff tries to stop them. Head shot perhaps?

You can see  here (Yale Divinity School) the frescoes which Arthur Houghton III, distinguished Director of the US Cultural Property Research Institute, has suggested on a professional legal blog could be "rescued from the Syrians". Leaving aside the ethics of such a suggestion, and what it says about US collectors' mentalities, does the "plan" look at all feasible to any but a coin collector? Yet Mr Houghton claims "I have discovered some interest" in the proposal. 

UPDATE 29th Jan 2014, 9:00 AM.
Of course it is futile to expect that any US collector reading the "Cultural Property Observer" blog would have seen anything wrong with such a suggestion, or criticised it (even if as a joke in extremely poor taste).  The last comment on the topic is the blog owner's own: "Seal Team Six meets Monuments Men. I like it".

1 comment:

Elina Moustaira said...

Very good!! (your points, obviously, not the situation...)

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