Monday, 25 June 2018

Looting in Pakistan

"Harappan pottery dish c.2500-2000 BC"
Saadia Gardezi has an article introducing the issue of Collection Driven Exploitation of  sites and monuments in Pakistan, a country under-discussed for cultural racketeering (Sadioa Gardezio, 'Looted Treasure' in The Nation, June 25, 2018)
And the stealing continues today. While it is true locals are complicit in illicit trade in art from Pakistan and India, it is encouraged by art dealers based in Europe and the USA. The plunderer in Swat gets a pittance, the final buyer pays millions for a rare millennium old art piece, and the dealer makes all the money. It is estimated that 90 percent of the South Asian antiquities on sale in the London auction market are illegally smuggled.[...] Islam is obviously not against local cultures, even when those cultures are not Islamic. But the lack of economic development, coupled with corrupt officials and murderous extremists, have stolen from our societies our past relics of social harmony and cultural exchange.
Collectors will argue that 'we" (that means archaeologists) should be doing more to create economic development, remove the corrupt officials and murderous extremists. Obviously the dealer who makes all that money on the antiquities market is not fuelling that economic growth and the collectors' money that goes into the pockets of corrupt officials in the form or bribes to turn a blind eye and murderous extremists to stop them murdering the smugglers, is not going to undermine either of those two groups.

Type "Indus Valley" into eBay now and see what you come up with, and that is just one of the cultures that this land supported down through the millennia. Then look how many of them are being sold in the UK (more of which later)...  the illustrated one is from a US seller. No collection history or export licence details given.

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