Monday 8 June 2015

Dugup Dealers: A "Frenzy" and Heartless Lack of Concern

Sam Hardy quite reasonably asks: "Why would a lobbyist characterise cooperation between archaeologists and tradespeople as a frenzy among archaeologists?" (here is the IAPN Lobbyist's post in question). One answer might be that the IAPN lobbyist has all the wit of a salad lettuce. Another is that Tompa is deploying on behalf of his sponsors the tactics have been neatly characterised by numismatist Nathan Elkins because like the dealers he represents he finds it hard to conceive of any other way to deal with any issues about cultural property.
Tompa characterised an attempt to work out the name of a book as a ‘minor frenzy’, which he quarantined in the ‘archaeological blogosphere and Twitterdom’, despite the explicitly recognised fact that an antiquities auctioneer, a coin trader and an ancient coin forum moderator were part of the conversation – and, as was visible, were key contributors. (More tradespeople, including numismatists, shared the appeal for information.) Why didn’t Tompa recognise the contribution of people in the trade and the cooperation of cultural heritage workers and cultural property tradespeople – the perfectly everyday cooperation of people with shared interests? Why did coin dealer Dave Welsh make a point of not contributing, because ‘if the identity of that book could somehow be established, the archaeological blogosphere and twitterdom would then find reasons to advocate more restrictive regulations affecting importation of ancient coins into the USA’, when other people who work within such regulations had no such problem in contributing? [...] Whether as a lobbyist or a collector (in Tompa’s case) or as a dealer (in Welsh’s case), how do they advance the trade’s interests (which it demonstrably shares with cultural heritage workers)?

We will probably not see a cogent answer to that question from the no-questions-asked trade lobby, short on real answers and real arguments as they permanently show themselves to be. Furthemore as Sam Hardy points out:
As Paul Barford noted, the books might indicate that ‘a local coin collector has been topped, his artefacts seized and his library destroyed (the numismatic book can be seen in the picture to have stab marks or bullet holes and the middle ripped out)’.  [...] It still seems unlikely that the French-language book on Phoenician numismatics (and other as-yet-unknown subjects) and German-language books on Egyptian pyramids were the property of the displaced villagers.
That issue seems of no concern whatsoever to Tompa and the dealers like Welsh whom he represents. Have ACCG and IAPN dealers who have been selling ancient coins from the region any contacts with legally operating dealers in the Middle East? Why do we hear so little about any concerns they have for the safety of their former business partners? The cynic might suggest that the lack of any kind of mention of these folk in the four years of the war amty indicated that any "business contacts" they may have had in the region might be the sort they are loathe to admit to (like smugglers, middlemen, corrupt government officials turning a blind eye). But the lack of human concern for their safety is notable, isn't it? 

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