Friday 21 November 2014

Dealer Ulrich Künker: "this is all made up by archeologists"

In Jeff Starck's article 'Archaeologist in Germany claims auction houses support terrorism', Coin World 19th November 2014 we read an interesting bit:
Ulrich Künker, who operates another large German auction firm,  Fritz Rudolph Künker, told Coin World via email that he was “shocked how unprofessional and how shortminded the main German TV channel is following the opinion of one (!) archeologist,” referring to Müller-Karpe. Though Künker is not at the center of the story, Ulrich Künker questioned the report, noting that ISIS has been active mostly during the past one year. “The companies involved are in business for 40 and more years. How did they do business before? It is common knowledge that the IS [owns] oil-fields. Who is buying the oil? Is this criminal as well? ... I just do not see those guys digging for cultural objects in the desert. I think they have other business to deal with,” he said. “In my eyes, this is all made up by archeologists”.
So Mr Künker thinks it might still be legal for him to fill his tank with smuggled black market oil from the ISIL oilfields to travel from one coin show to another? Would he know where to get some maybe? I do not think there is "just one" archaeologist who is warning about where the funds raised by the trade in illicit antiquities are in all probability going. Mr Künker may try to deny it even possible . Likewise that ISIL may raise finds by turning commodities into cash on market X does not mean that market X has always and exclusively been supplied by ISIL, does it? What a stupid argument.

As for whether the whole thing is "made up by archaeologists", I suggest he spend a while looking at the satellite photo evidence of all those holes in sites like Dura Europos and Mari  and I'd be interested to hear what alternative explanation he comes up with. Like maybe calling on the help of the 'coin fairies' to explain them.

An additional point, is it archaeologists who have to explain how the global antiquities market works, or is it antiquities dealers? If Firm XYZ has been in legitimate business "for 40 and more years", then they'll have very good contact with suppliers and experts on the ground in the areas where their artefacts come from.How is it that the dealers are not offering any information at all about this, simply reacting to what others observe (denying that anything of the kind is going on)?

Hat tip to Sam Hardy for drawing my attention to the quote

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