Saturday, July 19, 2008

Portable Antiquity Collecting

Paul Barford has shown true tenacity, resolve and patience in the way he has raised issues about portable antiquities. He now has his own blog Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues in addition to being an invited commentator on Safecorner.

Here is a flavour of what he plans to talk about:
Even a perfunctory perusal of the websites, “discussion” (sic) lists, forums and blogs of the advocates of a (‘leave us alone’) status quo for portable antiquity collectors will reveal that they have a number of common characteristics. There are a canon of justificatory mantras which portable antiquity collectors tend to repeat to each other as some form of self-affirmation of identity and personal faith. There are usually some perturbing views expressed, for example on what is ethical and responsible basically comprising little more than an ‘it’s legal innit?’ argument. If it goes beyond that, collectors concentrate attention on the isolated object rather than the information its original archaeological context comprised. They see personal artefact collecting as a matter of personal rights rather than the conservation issue that it is. They demand free and easy access to any cultural heritage that may take their fancy and most of their explanations of the difficulties that are put in their way involve conspiracy theories, and they cast themselves in the role of innocents unfairly victimised. Another tendency is to engage in attacks on a generalized “(radical) archaeology” to which the dealers in undocumented ‘pieces of the past’ ascribe all the blame for any problems that are put in the way of an unrestricted flow of easily accessible antiquities to their collections.
And if you in any doubt about who lies behind the (incorrect) use of "radical archaeology" see here.

I am looking forward to Paul's distinctive contribution to the debates and discussions.

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