Wednesday, 11 March 2015

US Antiquities Dealer Condones Buying 'Endangered' Artefacts from Middle East

Over in the US, dealers seem to be prone to following  James Cuno in his NYT response in suggesting that in order to "save them" from the brown-skinned folk in the unruly colonies, a more enlightened elite of "western antiquarians" should buy looted artefacts. Typical of such an attitude is Dealer Dave ("Classical Coins"), writing on the IAPN and PNG sponsored blogger's "Cultural Property Observer":
Col[l]a's well-reasoned and well-informed comments paint a bleak picture indeed for Western antiquarians interested in ancient civilizations located not only in modern Iraq, but also in other lands whose present-day inhabitants follow Islam, and even in some lands whose inhabitants are not Islamic. The concept that "object veneration" associated with appreciation and study of the past is regarded by many who live there as a form of idolatry, to be met with hostility or at best with indifference, is appalling. But it is probably also entirely true. As a long-time "object venerator" to whom mankind's historical and cultural heritage is of very great importance, I perceive that this analytic look at the truth gives the lie to the foundations of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

Those concerned about the "cultural heritage" of Iraq and other "source states" do not appear to be the many who live there, but instead the few, most of whom do not - antiquarians such as myself, archaeologists, and local elites who share little if anything with the Egyptian fellahin and their counterparts in other lands.  That presents a trenchant question: if the peoples of these lands are indifferent and even hostile to their "cultural heritage," what is the point in reserving it for them to ignore, or to destroy? Would it not be far more appropriate and beneficial to mankind to allow them to disseminate it to others who would appreciate and treasure it?
and of course, from his point of view, to make as much money as one can by selling them to collectors and museums and passing the money to the suppliers of these artefacts.

UPDATE 12 March 2015 Dealer Dave: "Debate only on MY Terms on my Bloggy blog blog".

Dealer Dave having announced that he is going to make a response versus the "Warsaw Blogger" and having accepted a comment by ACCG BFF metal detectorist John Howland  and an apostrophe-misusing one by Peter Tompa (both harping on about "Communism"), Dealer Dave once again dodges the actual issues raised about his earlier remarks to Tompa's blog:
Mr. Barford:
I will not approve this comment since I have no intention of carrying on a debate (on your terms) regarding themes upon which you are constantly lecturing collectors and their suppliers in the comments section of my blog. I will say that I have no intention of acquiring or selling antiquities of the sort that ISIL is looting and destroying. Dave Welsh
The comment he rejected is appended below (as a comment to this post) for anyone who wants to see the question he refuses to answer. Once again, we see the very same people that are so critical of those raising issues about no questions asked collecting and trade being involved in the no-answers-blocking-of-questions mode which is all the dealers can ever offer to the public debate on the heritage. The no-questions-asked antiquities trade has no affordance for any questions at all. QED.

My comments about what Mr Welsh said about "western antiquarians" acquiring antiquities to "save" them from the ignorant brown folk still stand. Mr Welsh, you may answer here. I'm not blocking you.

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

What I sent as a comment to Mr Welsh's blog in reply to what he wrote (versus the "Warsaw Blogger"):

---- Paul Barford wrote: Paul Barford has left a new comment on your post ""Dealer Dave" vs. the "Warsaw Blogger"":

Mr Welsh, with respect, if you say "I perceive that this analytic look at the truth gives the lie to the foundations of the 1970 UNESCO Convention" let us add the FULL name of the document: "on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property". Then I think one might be forgiven for believing that you were writing of "giving the lie" to the concept of licit/illicit, no? That is what (and only what) that Convention is about.

If that is not what you meant by what you wrote, to what were you referring then?

Please clarify from whom you as a dealer or collector would be licitly acquiring artefacts actually "threatened by fundamentalist Moslems", if not the very people who hold that territory? In other words the very people you claim to be doing it to oppose? Can you tell us the way out of this dilemma? Please answer that too in relation to what you actually wrote, rather than what you think we should imagine you meant. If you bought these artefacts and then (as dealer, altruistic or not) supplied them to your customers, to whom do you imagine the money would be going if not those who supplied you and your suppliers with them? Can you answer that in relation to what we are discussing ("saving artefacts" from those who deal with "those barbaric jihadist thugs")?

In what way is it allegedly "offensive" (or "communist" - sic) to ask or discuss where the artefacts which people like you handle are coming from and express an opinion about that? Do you and I not live in a modern open society where we can ask such questions and discuss such issues?

Mr Howland, today I have navy blue underwear on. That is about as relevant to what I write on antiquities as who I vote for, who I pray to, how expensive my suits are or many speeding tickets I have and who I sleep with. These are all none of your business.

Posted by Paul Barford to Ancient Coins at 6:24 AM

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