Saturday, 16 June 2018

Illegal trade in antiquities: a scourge that has gone on for too long

Greek vases are popular with collectors so are looted
Owning a piece of antiquity [i]s seen as demonstrating wealth, a love of ancient culture and, ultimately, one’s own distinction: having things that nobody else could have. At least this is what the looters th[ink]. We should now all know the most apt way to describe this dubious form of collection – and it’s a word that has historical resonance: vandalism. [...] the antiquities trade is still going strong – not only depriving countries of their heritage, but, which is worse, depriving the world of the information that could be extracted with appropriate systematic excavation and reducing the artefacts into mere art pieces [...] Meanwhile, there is evidence that revenue from the sale of stolen antiquities looted in Syria and Iraq has been used to fund Islamic State and other terrorist groups – so one illegal activity has been connected to many others. Fighting the trade How are we to stop this trade, which is a scourge of historical knowledge, local pride and international sovereignty[?] The illicit trade in antiquities – and almost all trade of antiquities is illegal in some sense, as it almost always breaks the law of the source countries – is considered to be a common crime.
(source: Evangelos Kyriakidis, 'The Illegal trade in antiquities: a scourge that has gone on for millennia too long', The Conversation June 15, 2018)

1 comment:

Paul D., Paderborn, Germany said...

I think this essay is somewhat self-contradictory. Mr. Kyriakidis starts out by damning collectors (of all centuries it seems) to hell, as vandals, looters and stealers and ascribes them nothing but the worst of motives.

Then some paragaphs later he suddenly talks about collectors as "not [...] the enemy" and even concedes that "many collectors are careful in how they buy" and that the rest is "simply ignorant".

How does that go together? And how should collectors who buy carefully (or are just ignorant) nonetheless "have insights and valuable information on clandestine networks"? And if they are in fact all of them vandals, looters and stealers why would they want to share their information with Mr. Kyriakidis?

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