Wednesday, 3 August 2022

The Enterprising Worley Loves his Job Profiting from the Trashing of the Past

If online Khazar antiquities from "the southeastern region of modern day European Russia" are your thing, Auburn, Alabama, US-based dealer worleyenterprisesinternationalllc has just what you need. They've been on eBay since Oct 07, 2014 and have over 9000 positive feedback, currently selling 1456 items. Apart from the Khazar ones, they have a load of those Koban culture "daggers" that I wrote about a while back (and there is potentially more 'Koban-culture-on-sale' news coming up soon).

The Worleys also have a number of intact Roman period fibulae presumably from grave-robbing. Because, where else would you find them in an archaeological context? [update: I should have written: these types, with the high catchplates, the folded feet, this spring construction etc. are all of types not found in the West, they are eastern European ones and are found in particular in the area north of the Limes, so the seller is misleading writing: "These originated from the Ancient Roman Empire". These more probably originated from Romania and/or Ukraine] (these ones do not appear to be the fakes that Ukrainians are now turning out in an interesting variety of forms and numbers - I hope to get time to do a post on these too some time soon).

 If you want orthodox pectoral crosses (also the best place to search for them is cemeteries), they've got those too.  

If you are into Judaica, metal detecting the sites of eastern European ghettos and sifting through the ashes of vanished lives will get you some dreidels (how 'funny', eh?)  [... but their Torahs come, they actually admit without shame, from Yemen and Syria (!)]. 

And of course we have the Russian wire money and the Olbia dolphins. that no 'enterprising' US dealer offering decontextualised artefacts from this part of Europe could be without.

The US market being what it is, it goes without saying that in none of these auctions is any kind of documentation of export procedure mentioned, or any document covering assignment of title in the source country (where all dugup antiquities belong to the state). Most are accompanied only by some coverall text with a surfeit of exclamation marks like this: 
"This is an incredible lot, and would make a great addition to any antiquities collection, coin collection, or display. This would be a great teaching tool, research piece, display piece, decor lot, conversation piece, gift, or addition to any collection! [...] All items come from a smoke free pet free home. [...] My items come from my personal collection, reputable whole-sellers, art/antique dealers, auction houses, old barns/houses, and more. Some are given to me to sell, found, or even items that I got here off of (sic) eBay (from reputable sellers of course;). Some Is (sic) bought in bulk so I can offer you great prices, and some are rare and I only have one! Let me know if I can help you in any way and I’d be happy to!!"
Smoke-free, 100% positive, I hate opening packets of things bought on eBay that reek of stale tobacco smoke. A house without a cat or a dog though??? There is something very suspicious there. As for the rest...

The proprietor has this to say:
"I have a high value for what our past can teach us, and thus want to help preserve it all I can! Part of preserving our past, is helping historic pieces find new homes where they will get the attention they deserve. With past pieces from my collection currently in museums, prestigious collections, or in formal displays, we are helping preserve the past a little at the time! "
Except by providing a market for goods obtained by trashing ancient sites, cemeteries among them, dealers like this are knowingly financing and encouraging the unsustainable DESTRUCTION of the evidence of the past. But of course, he himself makes a profit... "Selling things on eBay is my job, and I love it!".    

Interestingly, there seem to be a number of companies, including in Alabama, with the name "Worley Enterprises", none of which seem to be this one. All very secretive and untransparent. 


Unknown said...

As for the brooches (I have only checked a few), there are many Sarmatian or early medieval types, most fairly typical of Ukraine and adjacent areas. Seemingly complete show some modifications. As you will have seen, the pins and spirals of some pieces are new. Some of the brooches with a diamond-shaped footplate have been reworked by sharpening the Foot tip. This can be seen, for example, at in the side view.

Interesting is also Such trapezoidal pendants are regularly offered, but never with a suitable description. In fact, they are attributed to the "Antes" cultures and date back to the early Middle Ages. The article "Complex of "Martynivka" type from Poltava (Poltava hoard 2014)" (Fig. 9) says more about it.

Article download:

Paul Barford said...

Thanks, this has come through as being from "unknown"... was that intended?
Yes, my point was, perhaps I did not make it clear, that all of the fibulae are types that only occur in eastern and centralish Europe and my feeling is these are from trashed cemeteries in Ukraine (rather than Poland). Sorry, should have been more explicit.

There is a lot more, I just picked out a few types to show the theme, thanks for the Martynivka text. [BTW I'd prefer to avoid applying the term "Antes" to anything archaeological. Jordanes (or rather his source) was making it up as he went along and really had no idea, when Procopius mentions them at about the same time, they are somewhere else entirely].

Unknown said...

I thought it important to emphasise that these things were not only looted, but also altered (pimped) and damaged in the process - as is actually always the case with the listings of such sellers.

The term "Antes" is still often used in archaeological papers. Is this habit, or is there nothing better, simpler? What term or paraphrase do you suggest?


Paul Barford said...

"Antes" are indeed used by archaeologists who like a nice simple ethnic label and the fairy tale of Jordanes gives them one from the "authority" of being an "ancient source", that does not make it true any more than his stories about Alexander the Great.
As for "who" used this metalwork and the pottery, that we can only (honestly) say "we do not know" highlights the damage that is being done by looters who trash these sites which means that archaeologists will never be able to use them to understand the social processes in operation at the time. Basically, we (and the people that live there) may never know, due to greedy foreign collectors and dealers.

Unknown said...

Ok, so let's continue with as accurate a geographical description as possible, which will at least give pieces like the one presented here a bit of history back.


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