Tuesday, 22 August 2017

One Born Every Minute...


Just GBP 38750, that is what it will cost you to buy a 'most rare precious artifact a Roman iron nail piercing bone ' from York Antiquities (Katie Borrows, York Y0265QT) on eBay. This 'most rare' item has a provenance:
A most rare and precious artifact a Roman iron nail piercing bone from Jerusalem found by my late father who was an Amateur Archaeologist in the 1950s on a small dig just outside the city while he was on leave from active service, the feel of this artifact is so very special a one off piece only know of other one in History been found from a Crucifiction. Offers welcome but please bare in mind the significance of this ancient artifact.
'Bare' in mind too what the photographic scale shows... the nail is about 4cm long. Neither does it 'pierce' the bone; a small indeterminate piece of bone is stuck to a corroded nail. No mention is made by the seller of any report by an osteologist, is the bone human or animal (crucified donkeys?). Or is this simply a coffin nail from a disturbed cemetery? No mention is made of this amateur archaeologist (a Tommy wiv a spade) having an export licence for this object, by the applicable law of 1948 antiquities are considered the property of the state (Morag M. Kersel, 'The Trade in Palestinian Antiquities' Journal of Palestine Studies 33 1980). In my opinion, the 'feel' of this object is something other than 'very special'.

But what are very special are some of her other artefact descriptions. I had many a good chuckle. This lady 'has been an eBay member since Oct 17, 2004' and in that time has sold lots of stuff to people who believed the spiel.

hat tip, Dorothy King

  



Saturday, 19 August 2017

The 'Jim Crow' Heritage of the Confederate South


There is a little debate about tearing down confederate monuments in the US today - rather like Poland's (non-)debate on removing reminders of soviet dominance 1945-1989. This video is an interesting comment on part of it: The truth behind most of the Confederate monuments being torn down tells an even larger story than you'd realize — explains.

https://twitter.com/mic/status/898941499550736384


hat tip: Katie Paul


Friday, 18 August 2017

Doing the Right Thing: Presidenting is More Difficult than Some thought


In the US, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has just resigned, every member. They have made public the letter they wrote to him, very strong and fine words, It ends:
Supremacy, discrimination and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, we call on you to resign your office too.
PCAH is an official agency, that makes this the first White House department to resign.

Hex of Exhibiting Collectors' Artefact Stashes for Them


Steinhardt said Turkey should have raised its claim
years earlier, since the idol has been displayed publicly for decades.
He said the provenance questions he has faced are typical for major
antiquities collectors, calling the episodes “a little bit of bad luck.” 

Christian Berthelsen and Katya Kazakina, 'Hex of the Idol: Steinhardt, Christie’s Fight Heritage Claim' Bloomberg, 18 August 2017
Increasingly, courts and public opinion have supported claims by foreign governments to return stolen treasures, in challenges to museums, auction houses and collectors. [...] Gary Vikan, former director of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, said the pendulum has swung too far in favor of foreign governments. “The enthusiasm for disputing things -- which is borne from very just cases -- has gone beyond the boundaries of common sense. “If objects have been in the public domain, they acquire good title over time,” said Vikan, the author of 2016’s “Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director.”
Which is why Renfrew, nearly twenty years ago (Loot, Legitimacy and Ownership: The Ethical Crisis in Archaeology (Debates in Archaeology) 2000) was arguing that museums should not be showcasing poorly-documented objects from private collections, giving them a spurious legitimacy. Fortunately whether an object is illicit or not is based on other criteria than 'how many people saw it and did not ask questions'.

Teotihuacan Trophies and Teddy Bears


Apollo magazine:
The problem is that you cannot "narrate the past" by collecting loose decontextualised objects together. The "stories" you tell are your own stories, your own constructs, not that of the living culture itself.

This is the kind of narrative you get, objects selected by the owner placed in groups by the owner, associated with other objects by the owner.

Teddy Bears' picnic: Card by Susan Rinehart

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Situation in Syria August 2017


Situation in Syria right now according to Thomas van Linge‏


All this talk in compilatory 'news' articles of ISIL-looted artefacts from Syria going directly across a porous border with Turkey (WSJ this means you, too) do not take recent political events into account.

Here is the matching one of his for Iraq:


What is left of the main core of ISIL terrotory in the Euphrates valley is some 300 km long and some ten or so kilometres wide with nominal control of large areas of desert.  There are two shrinking outliers in the Tigris valley (including Tel Afar).





Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit heading for closure


On the transfer of its three members to an investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire, in west London, which killed more than 80 people on 14 June, a former head of Scotland Yard's  Art and Antiques Unit suggests that the unit may be facing closure (Martin Bailey, 'Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques Unit heading for closure' Art Newspaper 16 August 2017)
Vernon Rapley, who led the Art and Antiques Unit from 2001 until 2010, told The Art Newspaper that he is “worried that the closure of the unit is now being considered”. He added: “I am very concerned that the Metropolitan Police is unable to give assurances on when the three detectives who have been temporarily reassigned will be returned to the unit.” The three officers are detective constables Philip Clare, Sophie Hayes and Ray Swan. There is currently no detective sergeant responsible for the unit, following the departure of Claire Hutcheon last March. The Art and Antiques Unit was set up in 1969 and has built up experience and documentation on art theft, fraud and forgery. Its London Stolen Art Database, which stores data and images of 54,000 stolen items, is the world’s most important national police register of art after that of the Carabinieri in Italy. Rapley, who is now the Victoria and Albert Museum’s director of cultural heritage protection and security, believes that London, the world’s second largest art market after New York, “needs a dedicated art squad”. He says: “Losing it now, when cultural heritage is under threat in so much of the world, would represent a very serious loss.”
I do not think there are many dealers and collectors who'll be shedding too many tears.


 
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