Friday, August 8, 2014

ADCAEA: an association for dealers and collectors

Paul Barford's post on the Association of Dealers & Collectors of Ancient & Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA) has attracted my attention ( It is not clear why a new body is needed. One of the two dealers, Hixenbaugh Ancient Art, is already a member of the International Association of Dealers in Ancient Art (IADAA).

I would like to focus on one point in the Code of Conduct.
All members undertake not to purchase, sell or exhibit an object until they have exercised, to the best of their ability, due diligence to ensure such object was not knowingly stolen from excavations, architectural monuments, public institutions or private property.
It is remarkably similar to the one from the IADAA:
The members of IADAA undertake not to purchase or sell objects until they have established to the best of their ability that such objects were not stolen from excavations, architectural monuments, public institutions or private property.
Both the ADCAEA and the IADAA seem to condemn removal of archaeological or ethnographic material from "excavations". But what about from known or even scheduled archaeological sites that have not been excavated?

So, for example, imagine a known Roman urban site that is covered by arable fields. Would it be acceptable for members of ADCAEA (or for that matter IADAA) to handle material that had been removed from that site on the grounds that the structures had not been "excavated"? I am sure that they would say no.

So why use the word "excavations" rather than "archaeological sites" in the formulation?

I am sure that both bodies have taken legal advice to avoid careless wording. So we can only presume that in the case of ADCAEA that this is intentional.

And those who observe these things will note the presence of a paid lobbyist on the list of officers for ADCAEA. What signal does that send out about this new association?

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