Skip to main content

Posts

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Recent posts

"Beating sites to death"

Policy decisions for protecting archaeological sites need to be informed by carefully argued positions based on data. Dr Sam Hardy has produced an important study, “Metal detecting for cultural objects until ‘there is nothing left’: The potential and limits of digital data, netnographic data and market data for analysis”. Arts 7, 3 (2018) [online]. This builds on Hardy's earlier research.

Readers should note Hardy's conclusion about his findings: "they corroborate the detecting community’s own perception that they are ‘beat[ing these sites] to death’".

Pieterjan Deckers, Andres Dobat, Natasha Ferguson, Stijn Heeren, Michael Lewis, and Suzie Thomas may wish to reflect on whether or not their own position is endangering the finite archaeological record. 

Abstract
This methodological study assesses the potential for automatically generated data, netnographic data and market data on metal-detecting to advance cultural property criminology. The method comprises the analysi…

Beierwaltes take legal action

The Beierwaltes are taking legal action after Swiss authorities seized objects during a raid on a warehouse in Switzerland (Amanda Pampuro, "Colorado Couple Seek to Reclaim Artifacts From Swiss", Court House News 8 August 2018).  The Beierwaltes had consigned their pieces for sale by Phoenix Ancient Art in Geneva. 

The Beierwaltes are seeking $24 million in damages for the seizure of the 18 objects valued at $8 million.

It appears that the Beierwaltes were purchasing objects from Robin Symes. Do any of the 18 objects consigned to Geneva appear in the Schinousa archive? Will the Beierwaltes release the full histories of the objects?

The story mentions that the Beierwaltes
assert they vetted all of their items and “purchased each object in reliance on express or implied representations from reputable dealers and auction houses in the absence of any thefts reported to publicly available databases of stolen art, such as the Art Loss Register.” This statement fails to note that o…

Schinousa outcome and reaction to expert witness

In November 2006 four members of a shipping family were charged. It was reported at the time in the Greek press that '152 artifacts were found at the villa on Schinoussa and at the family's Athenian home in Psychico, northern Athens' ("Four charged over artifact stash", 23 November 2006).

The verdict on the Schinousa case was reached on Thursday 26 July 2018. A translation of the verdict has been circulated by the State lawyer: ‘The Court by majority found guilty Despina and Dimitri Papadimitriou for the act of misappropriation of monuments and convicted each one of them to suspended imprisonment of 4 years. It also ratified the seizure and ordered the confiscation of the seized items’.

The day after the verdict, 27 July 2018, Dr Christos Tsirogannis, who had served as an expert witness in the case, received a letter from the London law firm acting for their Greek clients.

Dr Sam Hardy has written extended comments on this latest development, and ARCA provides a…

Michael Lewis on Metal Detecting

Michael Lewis has been talking about metal-detecting as part of the V&A Culture in Crisis Programme. He has stressed the benefit about searching ploughsoil. But what about the findspot of the Lenborough Hoard?

Lewis moves to discuss why the metal-detecting community has not signed up to the revised Code of Practice.

He touches on the issue of possible "criminal" elements who are out to loot archaeological site, and give the "hobby" a tarnished reputation.

The interviewer, Laura Jones, asked about the loss of context as a result of metal-detecting. Lewis talks about finds from below the ploughsoil, and suggests that there needs to be immediate archaeological help. He mentions the Watlington Hoard and the wait needed before the excavation could take place.

Lewis discusses the Staffordshire Hoard (but see here) as one of his favourite finds.

It would have been interesting to hear Lewis talk about the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet and the accuracy of its reporte…

Debating the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Back in 2010 I was invited to write a forum piece, "The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Treasure Act: Protecting the Archaeology of England and Wales?", for Papers from the Institute of Archaeology.

In the light of the discussion around Sam Hardy's analysis of open-source data on metal-detecting for cultural property, I thought that it would be interesting to see how the forum piece has been cited by using data from the publisher's website, Research Gate, and Google Scholar.

Excluding self-citations, articles are as follows:
Campbell, Peter B. (2013) The Illicit Antiquities Trade as a Transnational Criminal Network: Characterizing and Anticipating Trafficking of Cultural Heritage, International Journal of Cultural Property 20(02), pp. 113-153 DOI: http://doi.org/10.1017/S0940739113000015Daubney, A. (2017) Floating culture: the unrecorded antiquities of England and Wales. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 23(9), pp. 785-799.Efrat, A. (2012) Getting Governm…

Alexander the Great from the Roman Forum

A marble head of Alexander the Great has been seized in New York (reported in "Judge Orders Return of Ancient Limestone Relief to Iran", New York Times 23 July 2018). It has been reported to have been purchased "in good faith" by the Safani Gallery in Manhattan. The head had passed through Sotheby's in December 2011 (lot 9) when its history was recorded as:

Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York, most likely acquired prior to World War II The Hagop Kevorkian Fund (Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, November 22nd, 1974, no. 317, illus.)  A.N. Oikonomides, Chicago
The head was recognised from archival photographs from the finds from excavations in the Roman Forum. The head appears to have been found in 1910. It was then placed in the archaeological store of Museo Forense. The head appears to have been removed from the museum by 1959.

See also "Request for Return: A marble head of Alexander the Great as Helios, the Sun God", ARCA 24 July 2018.