Saturday, November 15, 2008

Germany: what is "important" cultural property?

Derek Fincham has responded to my comment on a Germany as a developing "hub" in the antiquities market. My report was based on reported interviews with two German practitioners (one in a museum, the other in the police service) who felt that the German legislation would not be adequate to address the issue of recently surfaced antiquities.

Fincham comments on Article 5 of the UNESCO Convention with its emphasis on the establishment of "a list of important public and private cultural property". The Article also talks about "the formation of draft laws and regulations designed to secure the protection of the cultural heritage and particularly prevention of the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of important cultural property" (emphasis mine).

What is important? Would a single Apulian krater fall into that category? What about a pair of kraters? What about a set of South Italian cavalry armour?

Some could argue that these items are not "important" in the overall scheme of things. However if you accept that some 95% of the corpus of Apulian pots do not have a recorded find-spot, then you will also have to acknowledge that major harm is being (or has been) sustained by the "important" archaeological record of Apulia.

The UNESCO Convention requires an attitude shift. Do museums continue to acquire and to display objects that have no recorded history prior to 1970? Do dealers continue to handle antiquities that have no recorded history prior to 1970? Do academics continue to publish antiquities that have no recorded history prior to 1970?

And if a German museum curator and a German law enforcement officer feel that their own German laws are not adequate (fit for purpose?) to address the issue of recently-surfaced antiquities then we should listen to them.

And it is appropriate to draw attention to them here.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails