Thursday 24 December 2020

It's looted, but it's got "Jesus" on it...

As usual this time of year the archaeologists are posting artefacts and linking them to "the Twelve days of Christmas" to show that "archaeology is relevant". And once again, their imaginations seldom go further than something dug up by artefact hunters.  Simcha Gross at Penn University exhibits:
Jesus and the trinity invoked on a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowl. Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!
...ובשמיה דאישו דכבש רומ(א) ועומ(ק)א בזקיפיה...
…and by the name of Jesus, who conquered the height and the depth by his cross

This is followed by the usual waffle, with the question of the collecting history of this item totally ignored. According to the publication linked by the poster of this object, the collecting history is "it came up for auction at Christies in June 1997 and was purchased by Mr Shlomo Mussaieff [...] nothing more of the provenance of the bowl is known". It just surfaced in 1997 was flogged off anonymously in Christie's and ended up in a notorious private collection. So why are we discussing what it "says' and not the looting of sites to fuel the trade in illicit artefacts? Or can Christie's now produce the paperwork, missing all these years, that the object has a perfectly licit collecting history and its excavation and transfer of ownership took place in full agreement with the law of the source country? Because that is the only way it should have been sold by them in 1997. So where's the paperwork? 

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