Friday 16 May 2014

"Münzen über alles"

Another conspiracy theory takes shape. The chief trumpeter of the PNG, IAPN and assorted other dealer interest groups can be seen on his "Cultural Property Observer" blog mulling over the figures from the public comments docket of the proposed Egypt MOU (missing out of course the all-important legal question, how many of those comments addressed the four/five questions proscribed by the CCPIA which are to be the sole subject of public discussion?). Because he appears to be being paid to oppose anything involving closer documentation and transparency of the dugup artefact trade, Peter Tompa's conclusion is as usual predetermined by his sponsors: 
"If there is so little real support for import restrictions on coins, and so much opposition to it, what behind the scenes forces are at work to explain the action?  At a minimum, its high time for some additional light to be shed on the process". 
It's "all about control" he concludes, echoing well-known US cultural theorist Thomas Albert.

Let us note that absolutely no comment made any mention whatsoever of mummified human feet, so collectors of such things have every right (along with the cartonnage-dissolvers who don't get a mention either) to be wholly indignant if any MOU goes forward which hampers their activities.

What forces are at work "behind the scenes" to explain why the US may decide to do something about the no-questions-asked movement of ancient Egyptian artefacts onto the US market? Common decency Mr Tompa, common decency. Something I expect not all collectors and dealers of mummy feet, clandestinely excavated and smuggled coins and sarcophagi, knocked off bits of monuments and other artefacts will understand. Why not support measures to give US collectors the possibility to purchase objects with US-compliant documentation of licit importation?  That too seems only common decency. 


Fulguritics said...

Can you replace the other two versions with this edited verion? Thanks

History is a sequence of biased opinions; the history itself of the evolution of the ever-changing sequencing and interpretation of these documents and archaeological records of biased, contemporaneously and currently financially-sponsored and motivated opinion is neglected by the smug historian, as meta-historiography is the purview of philologists, literary and cultural theorists, and epigraphers, of which no collector who does not recognize the need for controls on trade is a practitioner. If all collectors were required, or at least encouraged, to release information on their collections in order to obtain licenses to purchase and sell, and could not, rather than ideologically WOULD not do so, because of a lack of intelligence or concern for "stewardship," the amount of information released would be so scant and problematic due to a discrepancy of reference access and lack of rigor in classification, that the collections will not even serve as statistical sources for general attributes, let alone sources of epigraphy or measurement data. The collectors who do not contribute to historical sciences do not also purchase coins that are of vital importance to statistical sciences, preferring exceptional aesthetics with redundant identity - to have the "best example" of some known object. A reported weight for this coin is the most important information at this stage of the game that could be offered, in addition to accurate photography, so attribution could be guaranteed (cf. the deliberate exploitation of misinformation by CNG that serves to yield higher hammer prices).
No numismatic collectors have contributed any lasting chronologies that were not already supported by the work of archaeologists, historical econometrists, epigraphers, paleographers and critical historians. I absolutely condemn the lying, smuggling, scapegoating, and treasure-hoarding apologists for their failure to recognize their double standards, as they accuse archaeologists of precisely the same crimes that are, by definition, integral to decontextualized artifact collecting. There is no exception, if market value is to be preserved, and the material is not to be de-commodified by committing unattributed hoard material, salvaged at little cost and with little intensive research, to academic use and/or repatriation.
I almost destroyed my professional reputation by surrendering to the recession-era collapse of professional archaeology in the US to work as a researcher/cataloger for an auction house – Pegasi Numismatics – and my research was always truncated to fit onto the tags that were inserted into the 2x2” coin storage flips (PVC, anathema for archival purposes, because they allowed better viewing, and didn’t have to be replaced as often from splitting, as the owner waddled around the world peddling pennies), and often deleted out of the database in order to “teach me a lesson” about “wasting time” caring about accurate attributions of often important variations and new finds, but the unanimous refrain in response to my indignation of this practice of business-motivated obscurantism has annoyingly been - from too many involved in the ancient/medieval numismatic trade - “Rare, but who cares?”. Coins are purchased by these dealers in Germany and France, placed back into bags – loose – damaging the coins – and then mailed from “safe” countries as undeclared “tokens” or “gifts.” There is absolutely no illusion that the practice is marginally legal. Numismatic retail is a fraudulent trade.
If these collectors would contribute donations to research institutions for the purposes of preservation, cataloging, and further work- if they cared so much about the science of numismatics, and not just the toy-fetishizing, ass-scratching, wife-neglecting "hobby" of hoarding ancient relics, imagine how much we would know about the fluctuations and timing of cultural-political-economic-environmental interactions!
-Thaddeus Besedin

Paul Barford said...

Thaddeus, if you think any coin collector will get to the bottom of that one.... but some interesting ideas and information.

For US dealers, the "safe" countries of course are non-MOU ones aren't they? But then if its WHAT is traded and not where it was posted that is the object of scrutiny, you see why these "toy-fetishizing, ass-scratching, wife-neglecting" hobbyists are getting so uptight about this aspect of the MOUs. Thanks.

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