Monday, 23 October 2017

CPAC Public Submissions Online

Top row: CPAC in session, Peter Tompa with his flag collection, Josh Knerly.
Bottom row, Tess Davis, Katie Paul and Mitch Hendricksen

The CPAC public session about the Cambodia MOU renewal has just finished. I missed the very beginning, but came in just at the beginning of the presentation of Tess Davies. This made all the right points and was very valuable as a contribution from somebody working in the field in Cambodia. Then there was (an invisible) Kate Fitzgibbon from Tumbleweed Town Santa Fe for the dealers, making all the same snide unhelpful xenophobic comments one associates with her posts on the ACCP website. She does not seem to have any firsthand knowledge of Cambodia. After this show of Trumpist sentiments, it was heartening to listen to the excellent Mitch Hendricksen, another person who has been actually active in Cambodia and again made all the right points. This presentation was loc=gically structured to present the main issues connected with the four determinations being discussed in the framework of the CCPIA. This was followed by a pretty annoying series of point Josh Knerly (representing the AAMD) whose Amerocentric demands to what CPAC should 'demand' from Cambodia before they actually honour the 1970 UNESCO Convention they signed three decades ago simply evoked nausea. Just who do these folk think they are? Why is it so difficult for some people to read the Convention (the one the CCPIA is supposed to implement) and see that iot is not in any way about a poor nation being obliged to help small museums in big countries create blockbuster exhibitions. Have a look at its title, Mr Knerly and reflect where the place of the US is in all this. Fortunately, after this disgraceful exhibition, it was the turn of Katie Paul. Her ambitious, careful and informative presentation of actual data on the US market for Cambodian items (including potentially looted items) was hindered by technical glitches. I hope she puts it online somewhere. Bringing up the rear was Peter Tompa whose degree of Amerocentric cant was only slightly less than that of Mr Knerly. He started rudely haranguing the CPAC, a Presidential committee, on what their duties were. Rude little man. Interestingly he got most of the questions (and a correction) from the CPAC. I am sure we'll hear how wonderful he was on his own blog.

But what really disappointed me was the CPAC's own questions to the participants offering "testimony" (as they put it). They were superficial, totally banal and unrelated most of it to the task in hand. I was extremely shocked when the archaeologist with the funny accent (did not catch his name, on the left of the screen [UPDATE: It was probably Lothar von Falkenhausen, who 'has served on the Cultural Property Advisory Committee since 2012']) suddenly came out with a longish diatribe on the CCPIA prserving 'context'. Ummmm.... no. WTF?  Neither the CCPIA nor the 1970 UNESCO Convention which it supposedly 'implements' do that. So at least one member of the President's CPAC showed he had not got the foggiest idea why he was sitting there in Washington.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme received mentions by Tompa and Knerly as a 'solution', which is odd in the context of what the PAS does and what the CCPIA does... Chalk and cheese, but this old smokescreen continues to be employed to try and cast a spanner in the works.

The Suspicious 'Global Heritage Alliance'

At the recent CPAC sitting we learnt, among other things, that Peter Tompa now represents the 'Global Heritage Alliance' ('an advocacy organization representing the interests of collectors, the museums and the trade in cultural artifacts'). The trouble is, it is not entirely clear what that name actually references. It seems to have no webpage, but there is a recently-created twitter feed. The logo apparently represents a drugged chicken and a passed-out rat. It was one of six organizations that joined to file amicus briefs in support of the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild illegal coin import stunt. It is in some way in some way linked with Peter Tompa's employer Bailey and Ehrenburg in Washington [see also here] and the DLM group ( The DLM Group 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW - Suite 250 ). The secretive organization seems to share some officers with other interested bodies, for example Matthew Polk (trustee of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore)  is also a board member of the Committee for Cultural Policy and a co-founder of the Global Heritage Alliance  ('organizations dedicated to formulation of cultural property policies which serve both the need for preservation and the public interest').  Gary Vikan, (former Director of the Walters Art Museum )  is the CCP's President and another GHA board member. As I asked before: 
Who are these people and what does an organization with such a hackneyed name represent? Is it really global in its membership, or is it another case of US neo-imperialistic attempts to impose an alt-right version of 'American values' on the rest of the world? 

Property versus Morality

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Poland: More Military Artefact Collectors are Killed

Since huge areas of the country were one large battlefield in 1914-20, 1939 and then 1944-5, there is a lot of buried military hardware in the fields and forests of Poland. There are a lot of collectors interested in finding it. Every year in Poland one or two metal detectorists are killed trying to dismantle unexploded ordnance instead of calling the sappers (who'll just blow up the item, making it uncollectable). Two military artefact collectors have died this weekend after putting an unexploded bomb on fire to 'warm it before disassembly' and it blew up... ('Fani militariów wrzucili niewybuch do ogniska. Zmarł drugi z poszkodowanych' 22.10.2017). The incident happened in Wola Górzańska (podkarpackie voivodship). A 44-year old man died at once, his metal detecting pal (aged 42, from Bydgoszcz) died in hospital this morning. They had found the object in the forest near the older man's home and took it back to the house and threw it in a fire 30m from the building. During a search of the dead men's homes, police found a number of artefacts coming from the Second World War, military equipment (dogtags, water canisters, helmets and bagnets), but also elements of weapons (shell cases and ammunition). Some of the latter were assessed as potentially being in a dangerous state and were taken away by sappers. Collecting such material is currently illegal in Poland.

Looting in Syria

Two interesting observations from Christopher Jones
11 godz.11 godzin temu
W odpowiedzi do
In 2014-2015, people dug a crazy amount of holes in Syrian archaeological sites. But two finds account for 80% of revenue in Abu Sayyaf docs
The recent spate of looting (or Museums and sites) in Syria in fact began in 2012 at the latest (Apamea and the mosaics appearing in Lebanon for example), but there does seem to have been an increase in 2014. If it is true that there was a downswing after 2015, it is interesting to consider why that might have been.

As for the second issue, readers will know that I am more inclined to see the 'Abu Sayyaf documents' as forgeries created by the US government as a cover for their promotion of an  'ISIL-financed-by-antiquities-looting' story for which there was little other evidence. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Blocking Out Difficulties

The dealers and their lobbyists continue to withdraw from and alienate themselves from the heritage debate. AnthroPaulicy now reports:
Katie A. Paul‏ @AnthroPaulicy
W odpowiedzi do @ChasingAphrodit @cwjones89
I “liked” these tweets so @ArtTradeSol blocked me. Haha I didn’t even participate in the conversation (although happy to)
This is part of a pattern:

(see here: james-mcandrew-has-no-solutions-lacks )

and so on. I guess if you are a representative of a group of people who like retards think they can continue to do what they do in the same manner as they always did things in the nineteenth century, ignoring views different to your own may appeal as a possible way to make the problems go away. In the world of the grown ups however, the perception of how to deal with challenges will differ. 

2017 Hadrian Award: Deborah Lehr

Deborah Lehr is the recipient of the 2017 Hadrian Award, presented at World Monuments Fund’s 2017 Hadrian Gala in New York City on October 16, 2017.
Lehr employs her vast professional expertise to safeguard and preserve antiquities under threat from conflict, extremism and looting in the Middle East and North Africa, most notably through the Antiquities Coalition, an organization she founded and leads as Chairman. Her leadership in U.S./China partnerships is also helping to advance sustainable urbanization and green economic development.

Antiquities Coalition
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