Wednesday 25 January 2017

Artefacts Stash Found in Liberated East Mosul

Iraq's MoD: More than 100 artefacts dated back to Assyrian and Islamic periods were found in an ISIL leader's house in eastern Mosul (hat tip Sinan Salaheddin)

Photos from here.

The second one down can clearly be seen that the pot is still covered in earth, making this unlikely to be a theft from a museum storeroom but more likely to be from recent diggings, the plastic crates and cardboard box suggest that this was a collecting point for objects brought in bulk by diggers and/or middlemen, rather than the private collection of an ISIL officer. At first sight, if confirmed, a pretty convincing smoking gun.

Antiquities trade lobbyists will now come up with some explanation where these pots and other objects were destined for. Ms Fitz Gibbon will no doubt be pricing them up and saying that 'they are not worth anything much on the market', so not worth bothering about... That' I feel, is the wrong approach for US collectors to be seen to to be taking.

Blimey, now I see Ms Yates is totting up the 'market value'.  Don't we think that maybe this stuff left boxed in a courtyard is what might be left over after other commercial exchanges, like what's left on the vegetable market stall at the end of the day? Eastern Mosul was about to fall, and I would imagine the bloke who had this was pretty desperate to monetise the best bits, in case he had to (had the opportunity to flee), but I would imagine that in a city about to collapse nobody would be that much interested in buying bulky boxloads or complete or restorable pots. I really do not think that the criminologist should be so dismissive of this find until we have more information.

UPDATE, UPDATE 26th Jan 2017

Ancient Assyrian Artifacts Discovered in Raid on Islamic State Safe House in Mosul  25 January 2017
Amid ongoing security operations to clear the recently captured Left Bank of Mosul on January 25, over 100 ancient Assyrian and early Islamic artifacts were discovered in the home of an Islamic State official in the city’s Az-Zirai neighborhood. Information regarding many of the items found was found in a series of extensive official Islamic State documents inside the home.[...]   Credit: YouTube/Al-Mawsleya via Storyful via Storyful
Video here.


David Knell said...

I agree with Dr Yates. Hardly the kind of stuff to be a major funding source to ISIS and provide them with the purported millions of dollars. As you say, these bits may be merely the detritus after the best bits have been creamed off but we have no proof of that - unless they are also listed in the "series of extensive official Islamic State documents inside the home". If they are not, this paltry lot falls far short of a substantial 'smoking gun'.

Paul Barford said...

I think you are falling into the trap of the dealers' lobbyists for whom, mercenary bustards that they are, the question of "how much?" is the only one they are interested ion. But I am thinking more in terms of a smoking gun that ISIL is actually connected with looting and sale of artefacts (because as you know i am sceptical of many of the American claims), and I do not care if they are buying a few boxes of bullets or a box of sharp knives to decapitate prisoners or an armed personnel carrier. That is not a question. What is, is whether militant groups are making money by selling artefacts to outside buyers, and if so - what we (we, the market and collectors) can do to curb those sales. And of course the first step towards that is stop collectors and dealers from just shrugging their shoulders and suggesting that if there is a problem at all (which they all deny), it's not theirs - the usual crap you get from these people.

Also I cannot imagine that this one house is the only one in the district right next to an extensive site like Nineveh which, if it was not cleared in advance of the incursion of the soldiers, is going to produce this sort of material.

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