Thursday 10 April 2014

Wallwork and the Real Lawyers

The joke piece "The archaeology paradox: more laws, less treasure" by Adam Wallwork, a law student at the University of Chicago, inadvertently published by the La-La Times as newsworthy is inexplicably still being discussed. David Knell (Wednesday, 9 April 2014) contrasts the view of two commentators: 'A Tale of Three Lawyers: Views on LA Times piece'. He contrasts the uncritical reception of the text's methods and conclusions by paid lobbyist and self-titled "cultural property observer" Peter Tompa with the much more incisive analysis by Rick St. Hilaire, professor of cultural property law at Plymouth State University.
Rick St. Hilaire rightly quotes the AIA: the mission of archaeology is to "preserve, protect, and interpret the precious record of the human past". Archaeology is about the study of the human past by analysing material evidence; it is NOT only about finding new tourist attractions or digging up loads of pretty objects. Nor is conserving the evidence of the past inherently "anti-collector"; it just doesn't pander to those dealers and collectors who wish to exploit it without consideration for anyone else.
Vignette: Post hoc, even tee shirt manufacturers get the idea.

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