Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cyprus Discussion: Etiquette?

Earlier today Marc Fehlmann of the Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta in Northern Cyprus made comments about my posting on looting on Cyprus. He had used the methodology that I had developed with Dr Christopher Chippindale (Cambridge) to study private collections of Cypriot antiquities. Some 98% of the pieces in some of the collections had no recorded find-spots.

Now I find that David Welsh, an officer of the ACCG, has posted (or should that be pasted?) Fehlman's comments (under the title "Hypocrisy") to the Museum Security Network and to the UNIDROIT list (which Welsh founded). While Welsh mentions Fehlman's name in the header, there is no mention that this posting was made to Looting Matters. (There is an attempt to give a link - that is broken - but not to the original posting with comments.)

Only last week Welsh was awarded the Exceptionally Meritorious Service Award by the ACCG. The citation stated:
As founder and moderator of the Unidroit-L discussion list, Dave [Welsh] has dedicated countless hours to providing a balanced forum for discussion online of cultural property issues. He also represents the collector fraternity very effectively on numismatic discussion groups that reach a broad range of interested parties. The ACCG is proud to count Dave Welsh as a member of the guild and a tireless defender of ancient coin collecting.
Nathan Elkins has already made some observations about the award.

12 comments:

Wayne G. Sayles said...

David;

I fail to see the point. Is this blast at Dave Welsh because he used the word "Hypocrisy" in the subject line when he forwarded Dr. Fehlmann's comment? That was of course Dr. Fehlmann's term (as quoted), not a characterization by Dave Welsh.

The other factor seems to be an unhappiness about the facts in Dr. Fehlmann's comment being more widely distributed. Is that not the purpose of a blog? My blog is constantly quoted verbatim on a variety of radical archaeology discussion lists and blogs (including this one). Did anyone hear me whining about it? If a blogger doesn't want comments discussed, then they shouldn't be published. Some bloggers will not publish truth if it contradicts their own view, so I was pleasantly surprised to see truth poke it's head above the clouds here. I suppose it would have been difficult to moderate Dr. Fehlmann's comment though, wouldn't it?

As for the ACCG award to Dave Welsh, frankly it's nobody's business, other than the ACCG Board of Directors, who the ACCG recognizes or doesn't recognize. The justification for any award given by the ACCG is even less germane. I could point to several awards from SAFE and the AIA that I think are appalling, but it's not my place to whine about them either. Now that I think about it, maybe the ACCG should inaugurate a monthly "Golden Hypocrisy Award" sort of like Melvin Laird's popular "Golden Fleece Award." Or, even better, maybe a "Whiner of the Month Award."

Wayne G. Sayles said...

Sorry, it was another Wisconsin legislator, Senator William Proxmire, who gave out the "Golden Fleece".

David Gill said...

Wayne

I am more than happy for postings to be circulated widely - they are in the public domain. However the context for the comments matters. Fehlmann was responding to a specific posting about looting in the Kourris Valley, Cyprus. Just circulating the comments is merely telling a fraction of the story. It is so reminiscent of an archaeological object ripped from its context - information has been lost, and it becomes impossible to get the full picture.

I merely drew attention to the award made by the ACCG to Mr Welsh.

And can I remind you of your own comments made two days ago?
"By the way, I'm sure that Professor Gerstenblith is fully capable of defending herself if the need arises."
Do you need to speak for Mr Welsh?

Best wishes
David

Wayne G. Sayles said...

David;

I do not speak for Dave Welsh, I speak for the ACCG. I do that with official authority and with full responsibility. Your attack was directed as much at ACCG as it was at Dave Welsh.

I believe that the comments of Dr. Fehlmann were absolutely in the proper context when quoted by Dave Welsh and as Executive Director of the ACCG I support Dave's post — you can consider it an ACCG post if you like. Of course, if I'm off base, I serve at the will of the ACCG Board of Directors and they will let me know.

If you are sensitive to context, perhaps you could examine the context of your own comments about Dave's award. Are you trying to say that it was not brought up in a disparaging way? Let's not sink to the level of being catty! Why is it that archaeologists seem to feel that it's fine for the pot to call the kettle black? Is this part of Archeology 101? Don't bother answering that rhetorical question, I've taken Archaeology 101 at the University of Wisconsin and that was not in the lesson plans.

So back to the main issue—your point. Would you please Dick and Jane it to me since I feel so obtuse and inadequate?

Regards,

Wayne

Paul Barford said...

Well, not only is the source of the comment not properly cited, but also the post as it was pasted by Dave Welsh on the Unidroit-L and Britarch forums have had a key sentence cut out of the middle, the one that actually gives a clue as to what Dr. Fehlmann's "hypocrisy" refers and its context. Thus manipulated, Welsh's version gives an entirely different impression what the scholar from the North Cyprus university is saying.

I cannot see how Dr. Fehlmann can claim that objects are not reaching foreign markets any more as a few seconds Google time reveals a number of Cypriot ceramic vessels are on sale at this very moment, some of them by major Unidroit-L contributor and Cypriot antiquity collector Eftis Paraskevaides. Funnily enough most of them are said to come from one of the collections he mentioned.

I find it odd that an archaeologist would be quibbling as to which end of the island these looted items are from, looted is looted, lost archaeological information is lost whether it's in Cyprus, the UK or Timbuctoo.

Paul Barford said...

Wayne Sales asserts: "I do not speak for Dave Welsh, I speak for the ACCG." So do we take it that fellow ACCG officer Dave Welsh was also speaking for the ACCG when he reposted an item taken out of its context here onto several other mailing lists with a key sentence removed?

I think the Chairman of the ACCG's International Affairs Committee owes us all some clarification where in HIS understanding (and perhaps that of the ACCG) the "hypocrisy" of the topic line of his altered text actually lies, and could he please also post it on the mailing lists to which he sent the altered message and indicate the proper context in which Dr Fehlmann's remarks should be seen.

Wayne G. Sayles said...

What Mr. Batford thinks has no relevance, nor import, in my view and requires no response. Certainly no clarification is "owed" by ACCG or any of its officers to him or to any group he might wish that he represents. If there is any doubt about what Dr. Fehlmann said then it should be Dr. Fehlmann who clarifies it, not some self-appointed interlocutor.

I believe that David Gill can also speak for himself and answer my questions without the aid of a surrogate.

Regards,

Wayne

David Gill said...

Wayne
I have written a reflection on Fehlmann's comments relating to private collection on Cyprus. You can find it here.
Thank you for your continued interest in Looting Matters.
Best wishes
David

David Gill said...

For Peter Tompa's reaction to this posting.

Marc Fehlmann said...

Dear readers of this useful blog

I just read the various statements that some of you have posted. The debate appears hostile and destructive, and it seems to me that some would still do anything to defend their position -more than a decade after the UNIDROIT convention on stolen illegally exported cultural objects. Back then, we had the same arguments ... Can't we have any progress in the way we discuss this issue? Looting is a huge problem, and we all should try to find an acceptable solution for scholars, laymen and the public at large.

And then: Even if I'm not a native speaker, I think that I made my point clear. I also did not deny that looted objects from Cyprus get abroad, but I claim that only very little ends up at places that are known for selling archaeological material from other source countries - and yes, in my oppinion, e-bay is still not the equivalent to a reliable and reputable dealer.

My intension, however, was to draw your attention to the demand for Cypriote antiquities (incl. coins) on the island. My colleagues and I try our best to educate young people and to raise their sensitivity for the intellectual consequences of collecting looted antiquities.

Marc Fehlmann

Paul Barford said...

Mr Welsh's "Hypocrisy" has now appeared on the Yahoo Archaeology theory and methodology discussion list.
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ArchaeologyTheoryMethod/message/3811

David Gill said...

The link in Barford's comment can be found here.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails