Tuesday 17 May 2016

Chicago Goes Bonkers

What specific steps, if any, does the collecting community think could and should be taken to better prevent the looting of archaeological sites in the future? 'Dealing with Heritage: New Policy Approaches' Thursday, May 19 - Friday, May 20 Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Chicago, Illinois
The massive looting of archaeological sites in Syria has focused global attention on a problem that has been festering for decades everywhere from China to Peru. Better policies and strategies are desperately needed to preserve sites from looting. If more effective policies are to be designed, it is crucial to understand how the existing legal trade in antiquities works and how it might play a role in addressing the problem of archaeological site looting. At the same time, such policies need to be balanced with the public interest in access to and preservation of antiquities.
A brave attempt to get collectors discussing the no-questions-asked trade. Here is another one which postulates - on what evidence is unclear - that by getting rid of protective legislation, "everything will come out fine" and the sites will simply protect themselves as happy treasure hunters go about their business, unencumbered buy any troublesome legal issues.
There are signs that the 'retentionist' philosophy common to most source nations, which many believe actually drives the antiquities market underground, may be open to review.[...] In his keynote address, Maxwell Anderson will review the most promising path to encouraging new attitudes within source countries, through greater transparency and public access in market nations, enhanced due diligence, and prompt response to claims.
Does that sound like the pernicious influence of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to you? Transparency and "public access" does not make hoiking into archaeology, so collections will still be being made at the expense of the archaeological record, but openly and with the approval of the state. Bonkers, sheer bonkers.

Vignette: Going bonkers in America 

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