Skip to main content

Coins and Cyprus: Listening to the Coin Forum

Recently I suggested that there was much "huff and puff" in the discussion over the issue to include coins in the treaty with Cyprus.

I am glad to see that there is commonsense coming from the Coin Forum ("US imposes restrictions on importing Cypriot coins", on July 18, 2007):

"Trying to demonize the archeologists, museum people, and governments of source countries who genuinely believe that private ownership of old coins and artifacts leads to the destruction of historical sites and historical knowledge just turns people off, I believe. There are grains of truth in their arguments, even if their argument as a whole are wrong. We need to be credible. We're the good guys. Right now we're losing the debate and being seen as the bad guys."

Can we stick to the issues?

What are the material and intellectual consequences of collecting? That is where the debate lies.


In “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future” (Houghton Mifflin 2006) Jeff Goodell writes about “eco-extremism”--the energy lobby straw man, “…if you take the position that impinges in any way on the free and unfettered consumption of coal [also a non-renewable resource], you’re an extremist who elevates the birds and the bees above the success of the human race. This idea, or a variation of it, runs through the rhetoric of Big Coal like a thick seam of anthracite.” Sound familiar? This “huffing and puffing” is not new.

Cindy Ho
SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone, Inc.
David Gill said…
I just noticed this parallel statement:

"We observe with distress and resentment efforts of certain radical anticollecting activists to demonize collectors, presenting a very misleading picture of rampant looting of archaeological sites resulting from collecting minor objects such as coins. That portrayal is so unfair (and so far from the truth) that one wonders whether this is ethical, particularly when it originates with those whose standing leads the public to consider them authorities."

The author?

David Welsh (in December 2006)
In my opinion, it would be much better if resources (time, effort, energy, money, etc) were spent on coming up with constructive solutions to the problem of looting and the destruction of cultural heritage. Resentment and name-calling add nothing to the solution. That is why I applaud the efforts of the US State Department in signing these bilateral agreements with other signatories to the UNESCO Convention.

Cindy Ho
SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone, Inc.
Unfortunately the huff and puff continues, but some in the collector and dealer lobby seem unhappy with the rhetoric of their leaders:

See Dave Welsh's comments
and a collector's response
. I also came across this amusing gem from a DW
on the Moneta List:

"...Ultimately it is all up to the collectors who populate this list, and how
much they care about defending their right to collect. If the AIA sent a
squad of radical archaeologists to your house to seize your collection, in
the process verbally abusing you as a moral cripple responsible for
everything bad that is happening to archaeological sites, wouldn't you be
mad as Hades? Wouldn't you be ready to fight? Well get ready to fight,
because that is more or less what they intend to do, and actually are doing,
one small step at a time..."

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

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.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.