Friday 14 February 2020

"Gonna Tell You Where Data are From Later"

To an archaeologist like me, this looks a bit fishy. This guy has access to some manuscripts, publishes some career-boosting articles on the ones that interest him from that point of view, but refuses to say where the actual artefacts came from: Mark Allon, 'A Unique Gāndhārī Monastic Ledger Recording Gifts by Vima Kadphises' Studies in Gāndhārī Manuscripts 2 2019, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies.

Manuscripts like this are what we call 'addressed sources', artefacts made to convey information. So the people that study them do not need to know where the objects themselves come from to extract some (and I'd stress only some of the) information from them. The rest is lost by the process of ignoring the context of deposition and context of discovery, only concentrating on the end effect, the artefact in the "scholarly" hand, and an article in a journal that can be put in the author's academic biography. Meanwhile the sites that were looted to produce those scholarly scraps are lying out there, gutted of the information those artefacts in situ would have produced, and since the looters were able to find a market for those ones in Dr Allon's "frame", I think we may have no doubt that until they are exhausted of accessible artefacts they are being emptied of more potentially saleable stuff, a process that will continue until people say "no" . And should it not be the scholars in our universities that lead the campaign to cut the tentacles of the destructive antiquities market? Not while those academics see that market as an easy source for things for them to research and thus advance their careers. 

When will those "details be published" and where?

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