Sunday 23 November 2014

Palmyra Portableising Funerary Sculptures

The destructive legacy of the no-questions-asked antiquities market
The Syrian Ministry of Culture (Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums DGAM)  has published two striking photos of the destruction caused to the subterranean second century AD Taibul Tomb in the Southeast Necropolis at Palmrya during the portableisation of part of the monument's decoration for sale on the international antiquities market. Take a good look at the top photo, the space is limited, it would seem that a wire saw was used here. The bust on the right has broken off before it was all sawed away and part of it is left behind.

Syrian and Japanese archaeologists documented the site between 2001 and 2005, so we have rather a better photo of the busts in situ as they were until not long ago. The real nature of the cultural legacy of the no-questions-asked "ancient art" market is nowhere better visible.
Before the collectors got there
So, "were these thieves savvy enough to understand what will sell on the art market or were they simply opportunists, taking advantage of what they could easily access?" asks Lynda Albertson (' Do you think art collectors might be tempted to buy Syrian antiquities (looted or otherwise?). We say resoundingly, yes' ARCA Blog November 23, 2014). She soon adduces evidence that artefact hunters have had no compunction about putting stuff like this on the market in recent years, and collectors have had no qualms about buying some of it.The two are intimitely linked. Collectors are financing this looting and those who profit from it.

1 comment:

Judith Weingarten said...

Even worse:

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