Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Ancient coffin breaks as child put in it at Southend museum


BBC: Ancient coffin breaks as child put in it at Southend museum
A "historically unique" 800-year-old stone coffin was damaged when visitors to a museum put a child inside it. Part of the sarcophagus tumbled over and a chunk fell off at Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, Essex, as the Southend Echo reported. Staff were "shocked and upset" at the "unbelievable incident", said conservator Claire Reed, who now has the job of repairing it. Those responsible were caught on CCTV but ran off without reporting it.
but they were 'ínteracting with the past' were they not? Just like artefact hunters and collectors (who damage whole sites by pulling out random diagnostic finds, and then do a runner, mostly without reporting).

Sussex man held in Turkey for smuggling ancient coins


Sussex man held in Turkey for smuggling ancient coins
A British man is facing up to three years in a Turkish prison for trying to take home some ancient coins found on the seabed during a family holiday. Toby Robyns, 52, an ambulance driver from Southwick, in West Sussex, was arrested as he made his way through security at Bodrum airport on Saturday. Airport security staff reportedly found 12 coins, which were later classed as historical artefacts, in his luggage. Mr Robyns told them his children found them while they were swimming. He is reportedly being detained at Milas prison on suspicion of smuggling historical artefacts.
I think one, two coins found in the same place is plausible, a story involving twelve is stretching credulity a bit. The PAS gives people in the UK the impression that finding ancient artefacts and walking off with them is OK - so when they go to more normal countries which see this as knowledge theft, Englanders do not know how to behave. Maybe the PAS needs to do more educating.

Dumbdown in extremis


A hyper-nationalist UK metal detectorist, while happily collecting the portable antiquities, imagines 'engaging in the past' includes the destruction of Roman sites and monuments
here in the UK, and elsewhere possibly, we'd better start dismantling all our Roman sites and remains as the 'racist' Italians held us Britons in slavery. Do think it possible that we Brits have a case for compensation against the present day Italians?
It seems the Portable Antiquities Scheme is failing to do any significant archaeological outreach among such people.




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'.

 
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