Thursday, January 1, 2015

Market demands for archaeological objects

One of the issues that needs to be addressed is the demand for archaeological material. Which groups are acquiring or handling such material?

  • Museums. Yet it is clear that since the Medici Conspiracy that most museums are cautious about acquiring freshly surfaced material. There is still some work to do on long-term loans.
  • Private collectors. The Medici Conspiracy has highlighted a number of 'high profile' collectors, and some of them continue to hold material that needs to be returned. (I have not forgotten about the Icklingham bronzes.) 
  • Investors. There are some who still see archaeological material as a way as investing in 'ancient art'. 
  • Auction houses. 'Toxic' antiquities continued to surface on the market during 2014 and it is clear that the present due diligence process needs to be made more rigorous. 
  • Galleries and dealers. Some dealers are raising their standards but not all. Can we expect to see improved documentation for archaeological material passing through the market?
  • Online vendors. Does the online market place need to be monitored more rigorously? I was exploring this with students just before Christmas.
While there is a perceived demand for archaeological material, and especially high value material, the unscientific destruction of archaeological sites will continue.

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Paul Barford said...

With your typical discretion you omit a mention of hasty scholars who want to get their hands on a new - unpublished piece of antiquity to publish, 'P. Sapp. Obbink' comes to mind.

Although not all will purchase pieces themselves, they possibly may encourage others to do so, and then they set to work studying them.

David Gill said...

A piece on a scholar-collector is in the next number of the International Journal of Cultural Property (published by Cambridge University Press). The article is with Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.


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