Saturday, 9 May 2015

Independent's Smuggler Nabbed

The Independent's Isabel Hunter was shown some artefacts in a Turkish border town and used them in a rather derivative account of the antiquities trade ('Syria conflict: The illicit art trade that is a major source of income for today's terror groups is nothing new' Independent 26th April 2015).
“I’ve taken this out so many times,” said Hani, as he deftly unzips a black laptop case. From two side pockets the Syrian remove a statue, some beads and an assortment of stones and arrange them for viewing. Nestled in the bag is an intricately carved 4,000-year-old limestone tablet covered in hieroglyphics. The markings record the success of two Mesopotamian kings, and were carved a stone’s throw from Babylon, the cradle of civilisation. An inspection of the tablet, gingerly touching the rough stone, is paused as a fresh break becomes evident – a crack splitting the plaque in two. Sheepishly, Hani and his colleague admit that they broke it last year. The handle of the laptop case wasn’t strong enough, they explain, and had sent thousands of years of history – an object of huge value – crashing to the floor.
I thought I blogged this at the time, but on checking it seems I could not be bothered. More of the same old stuff. Anyway, 5th May 2015, "Hani" was arrested, and the artefacts seized. The name is now reported differently and he's appearing in court ('Turkey - Gaziantep: Syrian artifacts smuggled to Gaziantep (168 objects)' APSA 5th May 2015).  According to APSA, "the artifacts No.1, 2, 3, and 4 are replicas".

The green stone head (2) figured prominently in the newspaper, obviously was. The female votive figure was only seen from a distance and I had my suspicions, the black architectural plaquette was not shown, and I must admit (despite the empty field in the lower register which some queried) I was inclined to see the slab-in-the-bag as possible real. I am glad the guy has been caught and yet more artefacts on their way to western markets and unconcerned buyers are seen to be FAKES. The coins though, IAPN, are probably real and could be being bought by your members. So, what IAPN are you doing to help stop this? And the ADCAEA? What are any of the dealers and collectors actually doing except trying to dismiss the issue? Illicit and fake artefacts are contaminating the supposedly "licit" market and nobody is lifting a finger to show they are doing anything to STOP it. "Hani" has been located, how many of his fellows have not?

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