Friday, 20 April 2018

Collection History Matters

Roman lettuces infected in USA
53 people across 16 states were infected by E. Coli linked chopped Romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona. States affected are: Pennsylvania Idaho New Jersey Montana Arizona Connecticut Michigan New York Ohio Alaska California Illinois Louisiana Missouri Virginia Washington
So, what can collectors do?
The says no specific supplier has been identified. They warn people across the U.S. to not eat or buy Romaine lettuce (including any in salad mixes) from grocery stores or at restaurants.
More specifically
UPDATE: The CDC says to avoid all types of Romaine lettuce (including whole heads and hearts) unless you can confirm that it’s not from Yuma, Arizona.
Check the paperwork. Unpapered lettuces can be a health risk.

Looted Dacian Gold Returned

Austria has repatriated a collection of first-century A.D. Dacian gold and silver artifacts to Romania, including more than 450 coins and 18 bracelets, thought to have been plundered from the Orastie Mountains between 2000 and 2001.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A View on the Antiquities Market

John Hooker FSA April 15, 2018 at 6:47 pm Hi Dick,
It’s great to see a detectorist who is not swayed by archaeological brainwashing! Some archaeologists lure people into not selling their finds because they fear the collector. The reason being that a specialist collector will amass far more information about their specialty than any archaeologist could ever hope to achieve from excavating sites. The same will be true for many dealers whose reputation and success depends on their knowledge.

Detectorists who sell finds contribute to our knowledge in many ways: a lot of dealers maintain public archives of their stock which can be accessed by anyone who knows how to use Google whereas academic publications are priced very high and are seen mainly by academics who want to further their careers; specialists often pay far more than nonspecialists so selling by auction can be a good choice for the detectorist; The detectorist can provide information about the location of the find which will aid in creating distribution patterns. This need not be very specific because a location within a few miles is usually adequate. I suggest saying something was found “near [the closest town]”. That way, the detectorist will know that no one is likely to find their favorite spot.

Being a specialist and a collector, I often give advice to detectorists about good places to look in their area and identify finds for them. In return, they often present me with samples from a site find that I can study further and I share that information with them as well as making it public through my blog.

After a while, many detectorist/collectors will form their own specialties and I also advise them on purchases. I never bid on any item that a collaborating collector asks me about if they are also going to bid. In return, they often tell me about things that they are not planning to buy but that I am interested in.

If you devote time, effort and money, then there is nothing wrong with profiting from that. Who would deny a farmer or a craftsman from making a living from their knowledge and their work? There is something wrong, though, with having information available only to the academic elite. Best, John

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Looting of Baghdad Museum

U.S. forces invaded Iraq 15 years ago this week and we remember the looting of the  National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad (Sigal Samuel, 'It’s Disturbingly Easy to Buy Iraq’s Archeological Treasures' The Atlantic March 19, 2018).  The story begins with a dramatisation of the theft and recovery of the Lady of Warka head
a priceless Sumerian artifact dating back to 3100 B.C., it’s the earliest known representation of the human face. It was looted from the museum in Baghdad—along with 15,000 other antiquities—in the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Soon after, a tip from an Iraqi informant led American and Iraqi investigators to raid a nearby farm. They found the Lady of Warka intact. In September 2003, it was returned to the museum. Other artifacts have not been as lucky. Fifteen years after U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein, ushering in a period of instability that led to the plunder of the museum while ignoring pleas to secure the building, some 7,000 looted items have been returned, but about 8,000 are still out there. 
It is worth noting one reason why 'portable antiquities' are called 'portable antiquities' and why this is important:
Most of the Iraqi antiquities sold online are small. Of the large items stolen from the museum in 2003, the majority have been returned. Many Iraqis who looted these items quickly realized they couldn’t sell them because they were too recognizable, and took advantage of the amnesty that the museum offered for anyone returning stolen goods. Some iconic items were swept up in raids or got caught at customs as smugglers tried to export them. The U.S. has helped recover and repatriate some of these. A stone statue of the Sumerian king Entemena of Lagash, which weighs hundreds of pounds and is missing its head, was stolen from Baghdad soon after the invasion. A clandestine operation involving federal prosecutors in New York led its recovery in 2006 and its return to Iraq in 2010. 
It is worth noting, which the journalist does not, the Aboutaam brothers played a part in this recovery. It is also worth noting that this piece made it to New York before it was found. Another one that got there:
Another high-profile case centered on a limestone statue—this one consisting of nothing but a head—of the Assyrian king Sargon II. The artifact was seized in New York in 2008 and returned to Iraq in 2015. (Like London, New York is a major hub for the antiquities market, given the city’s many galleries and auction houses.)  Although the U.S. has been actively repatriating artifacts—Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned more than 1,200 items between 2008 and 2015 alone—it has also let some things slide. “It is worth noting that there were no follow-up congressional hearings or independent investigations to pinpoint the parties responsible for the negligence connected to the museum debacle,” Archeology Magazine reported in 2013. What’s more, as the Chicago Tribune reported in 2015, “American military members, contractors, and others caught with culturally significant artifacts they brought home from the war there largely aren’t prosecuted.” It’s not known how many Americans brought home artifacts as souvenirs or war trophies, but one expert suggested to the Tribune that the known cases—a defense contractor who brought back gold-plated items from Saddam’s palaces; a U.S. employee who shipped home an Iraq government seal; a Marine who bought eight ancient looted stone seals off the street—are just “the tiniest tip of the iceberg.” 

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Blogging Light for a While

Blogging here has been and will be light for a while longer, I am recovering from an operation which should have been simple, but developed complications. But I am feeling OK now and will be delivering the presentation on 11th April on looted artefacts from the  MENA  area and the antiquities trade (etc) at University of East Anglia as planned. See some of you there.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

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