Monday, November 9, 2009

UCL and the Incantation Bowls: further comment

Towards the end of October Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn cited the UCL incantation bowls in a speech in the House of Lords. The Observer has now published a detailed comment on the story (Vanessa Thorpe and James Doeser, "UK scholars linked to 'stolen' bowls of Babylon", The Observer November 8, 2009). The authors appear to have used a copy of the report on the bowls that has been placed in the Library of the House of Lords.

Thorpe and Doeser cite the report:
The UCL report concludes that "the bowls are subject to the Iraq United Nations sanctions order 2003 as cultural objects illicitly removed from Iraq after 6 August 1990 and that UCL has therefore a duty to deliver them to a constable".
The history of the report is also discussed:
The learned team of academics and researchers who worked on the report concluded that both the university and Schøyen were guilty of not showing enough curiosity about the source of the 654 bowls, although it is not suggested that Schøyen knew they might have been looted when he bought them. The team recommended they be returned immediately and asked for the findings to be made public. But in 2007 the report's three authors were made to keep quiet about their conclusions and UCL paid an undisclosed sum of compensation to Schøyen. The authors are believed to have been unhappy about the legal gag.

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