Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Does looting matter?

Why all the fuss? People have been looting for centuries. Look at the Middle Kingdom Egyptian mortuary statuette of User that turned up in a Late Minoan context at Knossos on Crete. It seems likely that User's tomb had been looted at some later date (Hyksos?) and the contents dispersed. Is it so different today, some would argue? A tomb is opened, the objects removed. The small items released on the open market; the larger ones turn up in the galleries and auction houses.

But it is the scale of the looting that has changed. This is now big business. Thousands of archaeological contexts are being destroyed each year to supply the market. That means loss of knowledge which can never be recovered. That is why looting matters.

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