Monday, October 27, 2014

The Intellectual Consequences of Collecting Archaeological Material

Context helps to explain archaeological material. There is information about the specific location, the stratigraphic relationship with other objects, and the association with related material. 

It is easy for archaeologists to document the looting of archaeological sites. And the Medici Dossier, the Becchina Archive, and the Schinoussa Images have made it possible to identify objects that have entered the market.

But we also need to consider the limitations of discussing such 'unexcavated' objects. Chris Chippindale and I explored some of the issues relating to Cycladic figures, and I have published a study of the intellectual consequences of acquiring the Sarpedon krater. I will be exploring further issues at a seminar in Cambridge this week.

Among the areas that the seminar will consider are:

  • Athenian red-figured pots attributed to the Berlin painter
  • Etruscan architectural terracottas
  • Apulian cavalry armour
  • Apulian pottery
  • Classical bronze statues
  • The Icklingham bronzes
  • The 'Crosby Garrett' helmet
  • The Sevso Treasure
Do archaeologists, and especially those dealing with the classical world, need to see how little material comes from secure contexts?


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