Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looting Matters: Overview of 2010

How did stories unfold? At the beginning of the year I looked ahead and suggested some developments.

Top of the list was the expectation that toxic antiquities would continue to appear. Bonhams offered a number of items that were identified from images in the Medici Dossier and the Schinoussa Archive at two sales this year (AprilOctober). The London press has started to comment on the phenomenon (see also here). Christie's in New York has also pressed ahead with the sale of material identified from the Medici Dossier in spite of a call for their withdrawal by the Italian State Prosecutor. Large numbers of Greek pots in the National Archaeological Museum in Madrid have been identified from the Medici Dossier and the Schinoussa Archive (overview). Princeton University Art Museum also seems to be subject to a further investigation apparently unrelated to the Medici Dossier. The issues surrounding the Attic krater in Minneapolis is still unresolved.

Operation Andromeda saw the return of some 337 antiquities returned to Italy (overview). This revealed links with the collecting of classical antiquities in Japan and in particular with the Miho Museum. A bronze Jupiter ("The Merrin Zeus") was returned to Italy. At the same time the case against Marion True has been dropped. The discussion surrounding the antiquities in Copenhagen is unresolved, as are the issues surrounding the Cleveland Apollo, the St Louis Mummy Mask, and the Minoan larnax in Atlanta.

An Egyptian coffin was returned to Egypt after being seized in Florida after passing through a gallery in Spain. This Barcelona route also seems to have been used for items removed from Saqqara.

I also suggested that the AAMD needed to address the issue of loans. This was illustrated by the collecting history of the Dioskouroi on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. However Maxwell Anderson has given a positive lead over the loan of archaeological material.

There has also been a hearing of CPAC to consider a request from Greece to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Cultural property became a major issue with the BBC Radio 4 series, "A History of the World in 100 Objects". The New York antiquities market has seen a massive increase in sales, and there is a new role for Philippe de Montebello. The Cairo Conference took place and discussed historic claims on cultural material.

One of the more shocking examples of looting took place in Caria. Two impressive kouroi were seized near Corinth.

Discussion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) appeared as an invited forum piece in Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. This raised the issue of the Crosby Garrett helmet that was found in Cumbria earlier in the year. Other examples included the Frome coin hoard and the Staffordshire hoard. Looting Matters has continued to work closely with PR Newswire.

Readership of Looting Matters has increased with over 132,000 visits on top of the RSS subscriptions.

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