Friday, 20 October 2017

Book on Bible Museum Collection Reviewed

Hamilton Cain reviews the book 'Bible Nation; by Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden *(Publisher: Princeton University Press, 223 pages, $29.95.) for the Star Tribune. The book is 'a deep dive into the mission of the hyper-evangelical Green family of Oklahoma City, whose arts-and-crafts retail chain, Hobby Lobby, has yielded billions of dollars to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ'.  The book discusses the Green family’s acquisition of ancient papyri and artefacts forming one of the world’s largest private collections of biblical antiquities, and then the creation of a private Bible Museum to showcase these trophies and act as an evangelical tool:
Moss and Baden deftly highlight the cognitive dissonance at the heart of the evangelicalism, how and why the faithful cherry-pick Scriptures that buttress their own beliefs while dismissing contradictions among the texts themselves, [...] Moss and Baden draw on extensive research and interviews with a revolving-door cast of so-called experts and hangers-on, leaving no proverbial stone unturned in their quest to determine the value and validity of the Green collection, the Bible Museum’s underlying purpose. “Bible Nation” peels away the bark on one of the largest branches of the American family tree, using an academic story to tell a broader one: the evangelicals’ unshakable conviction in their own fantasies and the demonization of anything, or anyone, that dares to challenge them.
* Candida R. Moss, is a professor of the New Testament at the University of Notre Dame, and Joel S. Baden, a professor of the Hebrew Bible at the Yale Divinity School 

Found: A Mosaic From Caligula’s Ceremonial Ship, Turned Into a Coffee Table

Sarak Laskon outlines the sort of 'respect' collectors pay to artefacts while 'preserving and displaying' them in their homes. ('Found: A Mosaic From Caligula’s Ceremonial Ship, Turned Into a Coffee Table It’s now being sent back to Italy', Atlas Obscura Oct 20, 2017). Antiques dealer Helen Fioratti acquired a mosaic '45 years ago', it turns out that they has bought an item stolen from the excavations of an elaborately decorated ceremonial ship from the reign of Caligula in the first century A.D. that had been excavated in the 1920s. The mosaic should have been housed in the Ships of Nemi Museum since 1936 but from which it was provbably taken in World War II. The item was bought in the 19660s 'from a family of aristocrats' (anonymous in the articles about this case):
The mosaic, they told her, had been found in Lake Nemi, nearby the family’s home, in the 19th century. She spent thousands of dollars to buy it from them, shipped it to New York, and had it turned into a coffee table, which sat in her Upper East Side apartment for years. In the past months, though, the Italian military police’s Art Recovery Unit and New York’s district attorney office have been working to repatriate stolen Italian art, and the mosaic caught their attention. (It’s not clear exactly how.) 
Now wait a moment. You are an 'antiques dealer', though trading in over-the-top Donald Trump -Rococo  but the name 'Lake Nemi' means nothing to you? Really? and 'found IN Lake Nemi' also? Really?

The artefact was recovered when the owners bragged about their stuff (Claudio Lavanga, Saphora Smith, 'Artifact From Caligula’s Ship Found to Be a Coffee Table in New York Apartment ' NBC news Oct 20th 2017):
While the art dealer said she didn’t know how the Italian police became aware of the artifact she wondered if they had seen it in a magazine shoot of their apartment. “We had our apartment featured a long time ago in Architectural Digest and I’m sure there was a photograph of the table in front of the sofa,” she said.[...] But the widow said she was saddened to lose the piece. “I don’t know if anyone is going to see it as much as they did in my place. I had people who were interested in antiquities admiring it in my home all the time. Now it will be in a museum with a lot of other things,” she said.
Which is where the plebs like you or I will see it, and not in some elitist private apartment in New York.

Col Bogdanos reminded us that we know very little about Trafficking

Thursday, 19 October 2017

There are customers for everything from Syria and Iraq

Sam Hardy in a post ( There are customers for everything [Für alles gebe es Kunden]’ from Syria and Iraq  Conflict antiquities October 19, 2017I) discusses an upcoming German documentary:
Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR)/Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ARD) will explain ‘how looted Syrian antiquities are sold in Germany [Wie syrische Raubkunst in Deutschland verkauft wird]’.
He outlines the kep points ist will discuss from the diggers and middlemen traffickers (through Turkey, then to Greece, Macedonia, Austria and… Germanyor through Lebanon), the role of Internet traders and finishing with
 The greedy and ignorant market: ‘There are customers for everything [Für alles gebe es Kunden]’, an illicit dealer tells (Syrian) journalists in Idlib province, who are working with the journalists in Dresden. Those customers include ignorant profiteers who form a market for fakes and forgeries.
It is the greedy and ignorant who are buying the stuff, and the fact that they will buy 'anything' that are the real problem.

Fragmented Thinking on US Withdrawal from UNESCO

Statement from the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), American Alliance of Museums (AAM), American Anthropological Association (AAA), American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), Society for Classical Studies (SCS), U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS), and U.S. National Committee of ICOMOS (US/ICOMOS) Regarding the United States of America’s Intention to Withdraw from UNESCO
Interestingly, and disturbingly, we see the same kind of isolationism and blinkered thinking here as we do in the Philistine government's decision to 'go it alone' embodied in the Trump regime's decision. This statement talks a lot about protecting our own heritage and that of others, forgetting that this is only a fraction of what UNESCO does and stands for.It is precisely such fragmented thinking by opinion formers in the US which is responsible in civil society today about what the wider effects of any single action actually are. We all need to practice joined up thinking before we do any more damage.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

How Assad’s Enemies Gave Up on the Syrian Opposition

Aron Lund ('How Assad’s Enemies Gave Up on the Syrian Opposition' The Century Foundation October 17th 2017) presents an account of how the attempts by so-called 'friends of Syria' from 2011 onwards to interfere in Syria to topple assad led to the outbreak of the current civil war there and the humanitariabn problems that this crated. In its heyday the US support for anti-Assad rebels, arms program 'Timber Sycamore' quickly grew into one of the most expensive covert programs in CIA history, spending about a billion dollars per year by 2015. Not surprisingly:
Official U.S. strategy was now to weaken Assad so much that he would agree to give up power, yet not so much that civilian or military institutions broke down or large cities were overrun by jihadis. But Syria was no computer game. The CIA and its on-the-ground implementers, an unwieldy cohort of rival regional intelligence bosses and rebel fixers, could not fine-tune insurgent activity to achieve predictable effects, nor could they rewrite the social and ideological landscape of rebel-held Syria by remote control. [...] Using a chaotic, hundred-headed Sunni guerrilla force to tweak the Syrian president’s personal cost-benefit analysis of a political transition was like trying to perform heart surgery with a chainsaw, and blood soon spurted all over the map.
Then, disgracefully, the 'friends' abandoned Syria to the bloodbath they had themselves instigated by their own naive political miscalculations. A thought-provoking read.

Vignette: Dirty trees, the American Sycamore

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

MoB Galatians Fragment Shelved

At DC presser, Museum of Bible's David Trobisch says it won't display disputed Galatians fragment until it can resolve provenance questions.
see my: 'Green Collection Objects "Yet to find a questionable piece"...'. PACHI Saturday, 5 September 2015
 and PACHI Saturday, 10 May 2014, 'Green Collection, well, there are collecting histories, and collecting histories'.

As for why there are problems, see here:
 PACHI Friday, 16 January 2015:
'Sappho and the Peripatetic Papyri (1) Introduction',
'Sappho and the Peripatetic Papyri (2) Pap.Robs',
Sappho and the Peripatetic Papyri (3) 2011 AnonStash at Christie's',
'Sappho and the Peripatetic Papyri (4) "The Trusted Mister X"',
I see I never managed to complete the fifth in the series.

PACHI Friday, 23 January 2015
'Sappho Pap. Obbink: Further Painting into Corners'.

Then PACHI Thursday, 27 November 2014,
'Mixantik and his 'Connections' with Christies'

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